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


  • Venetoklis, Takis
  • Ervasti, Heikki


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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  • Venetoklis, Takis & Ervasti, Heikki, 2006. "Unemployment and Subjective Well-being: Does Money Make a Difference," Discussion Papers 391, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fer:dpaper:391

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Johannesson, Magnus, 2001. "The relationship between happiness, health, and socio-economic factors: results based on Swedish microdata," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 553-557.
    2. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
    2. Roberson Édouard & Gérard Duhaime, 2013. "The Well-Being of the Canadian Arctic Inuit: The Relevant Weight of Economy in the Happiness Equations," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 373-392, August.


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