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Unemployment and Subjective Well-being: Does Money Make a Difference

  • Takis Venetoklis
  • Heikki Ervasti

In this paper we focus on the level of subjective well-being and its determinants among the unemployed as compared with those currently in paid labour. In theoretical terms, strongly contradictory views prevail on the effects of unemployment on subjective well-being. Whereas the traditional deprivation theory maintains that unemployment is a major psychological stressor, the incentive theory suggests that the level of well-being among the unemployed is far too high for them to actively and effectively search for a new job and to reenter the labour market. Using the European Social Survey (ESS) data our empirical analysis suggests that perhaps, neither of these theories are entirely correct. The deprivation theory points to the right direction by stressing the psychological factors associated with unemployment but makes a notable mistake by disregarding the economic factors which prove to be mot most crucial factor for the well-being of the unemployed. The incentive theory gets no support at all in our empirical analysis.

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Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Discussion Papers with number 391.

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Date of creation: 04 May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fer:dpaper:391
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  1. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  2. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Johannesson, Magnus, 1997. "The Relationship between Happiness, Health and Socio-economic Factors: Results Based on Swedish Micro Data," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 207, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1997. "Unemployment, joblessness, psychological well-being and self-esteem: Theory and evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 133-158.
  4. Ensminger, Margaret E. & Celentano, David D., 1990. "Gender differences in the effect of unemployment on psychological distress," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 469-477, January.
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