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How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters

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Abstract

The well-being of a person is reflected in the language used. Building on 1,400 letters written by three famous music composers, I obtain well-being indices that span their lifetime. The validity of this methodology is shown by linking the indices with biographical information and through estimation of the determinants of well-being. I find, consistent with the literature, that work-related engagements and accomplishments are positively related with well-being, while poor health or death of a relative is detrimental. I then exploit the data and provide quantitative evidence on the existence of a causal impact of negative emotions on outstanding creativity, an association hypothesized across several disciplines since the Antiquity; however, not yet convincingly established for the case of extraordinary achievers.

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  • Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2013. "How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 20/2013, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics, revised 07 Apr 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sdueko:2013_020
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    File URL: http://www.sdu.dk/-/media/files/om_sdu/institutter/ivoe/disc_papers/disc_2013/dpbe20_2013revised.pdf?la=da
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    1. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    2. Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 2012. "The relationship between innovation and subjective wellbeing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1498.
    3. John O'Hagan & Karol Jan BOROWIECKI, 2009. "Birth Location, Migration and Clustering of Important Composers: Historical Patterns," Trinity Economics Papers tep0115, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2015.
    4. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
    5. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well‐being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537, July.
    6. Karol Jan Borowiecki, 2012. "Are composers different? Historical evidence on conflict-induced migration (1816-1997)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 270-291, August.
    7. Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2013. "The happy artist: an empirical application of the work-preference model," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 37(2), pages 225-246, May.
    8. Martin Binder, 2013. "Innovativeness and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 561-578, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Etro, Federico & Marchesi, Silvia & Stepanova, Elena, 2020. "Liberalizing art. Evidence on the Impressionists at the end of the Paris Salon," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    2. Borowiecki, Karol Jan & Dahl, Christian Møller, 2021. "What makes an artist? The evolution and clustering of creative activity in the US since 1850," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    3. Kathryn Graddy & Carl Lieberman, 2018. "Death, Bereavement, and Creativity," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(10), pages 4505-4514, October.
    4. Mahmood, Rafat & Jetter, Michael, 2019. "Military Intervention via Drone Strikes," IZA Discussion Papers 12318, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Well-being; happiness; positive emotions; negative emotions; creativity; health; labor; composer; letters; methodology; music history;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature

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