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Who Got the Brexit Blues? The Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK

Author

Listed:
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee

    (WBS - Warwick Business School - University of Warwick [Coventry])

  • Anke Plagnol

    (City University of London)

  • Paul Frijters

    (LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

We use the 2015–16 waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society) to look at subjective wellbeing around the time of the June 2016 EU membership Referendum in the UK (Brexit). We employ measures of both evaluative and affective wellbeing, namely life satisfaction and mental distress, respectively. We find that those reporting lower life satisfaction in 2015 were more likely to express a preference for leaving the EU in 2016, while mental distress was less predictive of pro‐Brexit attitudes. Post‐Referendum, those with Leave preferences enjoyed an increase in life satisfaction but there was no change in average life satisfaction in the overall sample. In contrast, the average level of mental distress increased in the sample post‐ Referendum, with no significant difference between those preferring to remain in or to leave the EU. We test the robustness of our results by considering a number of potential caveats, such as sample selection, unobserved individual fixed effects and the interval between interviews. Overall, our results suggest that levels of subjective wellbeing may be both a cause and a result of the 2016 Brexit vote.

Suggested Citation

  • Nattavudh Powdthavee & Anke Plagnol & Paul Frijters & Andrew E. Clark, 2019. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? The Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-02095211, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-02095211
    DOI: 10.1111/ecca.12304
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02095211
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    1. repec:cep:cepbxt:02 is not listed on IDEAS
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    2. Walter Bossert & Andrew E. Clark & Conchita d'Ambrosio & Anthony Lepinteur, 2019. "Economic Insecurity and the Rise of the Right," PSE Working Papers halshs-02325984, HAL.
    3. Vandoros, Sotiris, 2020. "Excess mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic: Early evidence from England and Wales," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 258(C).
    4. Liberini, Federica & Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Redoano, Michela, 2019. "Was Brexit triggered by the old and unhappy? Or by financial feelings?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 287-302.
    5. Hans-Ulrich Brautzsch & Oliver Holtemöller, 2021. "International trade barriers and regional employment: the case of a no-deal Brexit," Journal of Economic Structures, Springer;Pan-Pacific Association of Input-Output Studies (PAPAIOS), vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, December.
    6. Saville, Christopher W.N., 2020. "Mental health consequences of minority political positions: The case of brexit," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 258(C).
    7. Georgios Kavetsos & Ichiro Kawachi & Ilias Kyriopoulos & Sotiris Vandoros, 2021. "The effect of the Brexit referendum result on subjective well‐being," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 184(2), pages 707-731, April.
    8. Rienzo, Cinzia, 2020. "Trick or treat? The Brexit effect on immigrants’ wellbeing in the UK," GLO Discussion Paper Series 586, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    9. Castle, Jennifer L. & Kurita, Takamitsu, 2021. "A dynamic econometric analysis of the dollar-pound exchange rate in an era of structural breaks and policy regime shifts," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    10. Schreiner, Nicolas, 2021. "Changes in Well-Being Around Elections," Working papers 2021/03, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    11. Drinkwater, Stephen & Jennings, Colin, 2021. "The Brexit Referendum and Three Types of Regret," IZA Discussion Papers 14589, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Liew, Tim & Goodwin, Robin & Walasek, Lukasz, 2020. "Voting patterns, revoking article 50 and antidepressant trends in England following the Brexit referendum," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 255(C).
    13. Čiderová Denisa & Kovačević Dubravka & Čerňák Jozef, 2019. "The Brexitologic of Competitiveness," Studia Commercialia Bratislavensia, Sciendo, vol. 12(42), pages 147-171, December.

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