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The French Unhappiness Puzzle: the Cultural Dimension of Happiness

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  • Claudia Senik

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Abstract

This article sheds light on the important differences in self-declared happiness across countries of similar affluence. It hinges on the different happiness statements of natives and immigrants in a set of European countries to disentangle the influence of objective circumstances versus psychological and cultural factors. The latter turn out to be of non-negligible importance. In some countries, such as France, they are responsible for the best part of the country's unobserved idiosyncratic source of unhappiness. French natives are less happy than other Europeans, whether they live in France or outside. By contrast, immigrants are not less happy in France than they are elsewhere in Europe, but their happiness fall with the passage of time and generations. I show that these gaps in self-declared happiness have a real emotional counterpart and do not boil down to purely nominal differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Senik, 2014. "The French Unhappiness Puzzle: the Cultural Dimension of Happiness," PSE Working Papers halshs-00628837, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00628837
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00628837v6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How do the French think?
      by Diane Coyle in The Enlightened Economist on 2017-04-23 16:12:56

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    1. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9812-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Conzo, Pierluigi & Aassve, Arnstein & Fuochi, Giulia & Mencarini, Letizia, 2017. "The cultural foundations of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 268-283.
    3. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2014. "Happy moves? Assessing the impact of subjective well-being on the emigration decision," Working Papers 20141402, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    4. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    5. Krause-Pilatus, Annabelle, 2011. "Work to Live or Live to Work? Unemployment, Happiness, and Culture," IZA Discussion Papers 6101, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Gábor Hajdu & Tamás Hajdu, 2016. "The Impact of Culture on Well-Being: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 1089-1110, June.
    7. Laetitia Duval & François-Charles Wolff, 2016. "“I even met happy gypsies”," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 24(4), pages 727-764, October.
    8. William Betz & Nicole Simpson, 2013. "The effects of international migration on the well-being of native populations in Europe," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, December.
    9. Nicole B. Simpson, 2013. "Happiness and migration," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 21, pages 393-408 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9797-y is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nikolova, Milena & Graham, Carol, 2015. "In transit: The well-being of migrants from transition and post-transition countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 164-186.
    12. Connelly, Rachel & Iannotti, Michael & Maurer-Fazio, Margaret & Zhang, Dandan, 2014. "Coresidency, Ethnicity, and Happiness of China's Rural Elders," IZA Discussion Papers 8194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Zsóka Kóczán, 2016. "(Why) are immigrants unhappy?," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, December.
    14. Zhang, Yinjunjie & Xu, Zhicheng Phil & Palma, Marco A., 2017. "Misclassification Errors of Subjective Well-being: A New Approach to Mapping Happiness," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258553, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Unhappiness; Subjective Well-Being; International Comparisons; France; Immigration; European Social Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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