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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 - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - 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, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - 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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    4. Lili Yan Ing & Juniarto James Losari, 2022. "COVID-19: Impacts of Indonesia's Trade," Working Papers DP-2021-49, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    5. 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.
    6. Dhingra, Swati & Sampson, Thomas, 2022. "Expecting Brexit," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 115145, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. 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.
    8. Saville, Christopher W.N., 2020. "Mental health consequences of minority political positions: The case of brexit," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 258(C).
    9. 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.
    10. Rienzo, Cinzia, 2020. "Trick or treat? The Brexit effect on immigrants’ wellbeing in the UK," GLO Discussion Paper Series 586, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    11. Brautzsch, Hans-Ulrich & Holtemöller, Oliver, 2019. "Potential international employment effects of a hard Brexit," IWH Discussion Papers 4/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    12. Nils Braakmann, 2021. "Immigration Status Uncertainty and Mental Health—Evidence from Brexit," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 521-548, October.
    13. Hervy, Charlotte & Cavalli, Nicolo & Madia, Joan E. & Nicodemo, Catia, 2022. "Diverging mental health after Brexit: Evidence from a longitudinal survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 302(C).
    14. Atkinson, Sarah, 2021. "The toxic effects of subjective wellbeing and potential tonics," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 288(C).
    15. 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).
    16. Sergio Pinto & Panka Bencsik & Tuugi Chuluun & Carol Graham, 2021. "Presidential Elections, Divided Politics, and Happiness in the USA," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 88(349), pages 189-207, January.
    17. Schreiner, Nicolas, 2021. "Changes in Well-Being Around Elections," Working papers 2021/03, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    18. Daniel Gray & Harry Pickard & Luke Munford, 2021. "Election Outcomes and Individual Subjective Wellbeing in Great Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 88(351), pages 809-837, July.
    19. Drinkwater, Stephen & Jennings, Colin, 2021. "The Brexit Referendum and Three Types of Regret," IZA Discussion Papers 14589, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. 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).
    21. Annie Tubadji & Thomas Colwill & Don Webber, 2021. "Voting with your feet or voting for Brexit: The tale of those stuck behind," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 247-277, April.
    22. 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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