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Why has happiness inequality increased? Suggestions for promoting social cohesion

  • Leonardo Becchetti

    ()

    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

  • Riccardo Massari

    (University of Rome La Sapienza)

  • Paolo Naticchioni

    (Univ. of Cassino, Univ. of Rome La Sapienza, CeLEG (LUISS))

The paper focuses on happiness inequality, an issue rather neglected in the literature. We analyze the increase in happiness inequality observed in Germany between 1991 and 2007 by means of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) database. We make use of a recent methodology that allows decomposing the change in happiness inequality into the composition and the coefficient effect for each covariate. We find that the increase in happiness inequality is mainly driven by changes in the composition of covariates, while coefficient effect is negligible, i.e., returns from happiness “fundamentals” are stable over time. Among composition effect, the rise in happiness inequality is explained –among others- by labour market conditions. Furthermore, the increase in education levels has an inequality-reducing impact on happiness. One clear cut policy implication of our paper is that policies enhancing education and labour market performance are crucial to reduce happiness inequality and the potential social tensions arising from it.

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File URL: http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ2010-177.pdf
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Paper provided by ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality in its series Working Papers with number 177.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2010-177
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.ecineq.org
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  1. Bernardo Guimaraes & Kevin D. Sheedy, 2012. "A Model of Equilibrium Institutions," CEP Discussion Papers dp1123, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Axel Boersch-Supan & Christina B. Wilke, 2004. "The German Public Pension System: How it Was, How it Will Be," NBER Working Papers 10525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  4. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Gernandt, Johannes & Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2006. "Rising Wage Inequality in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-19, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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