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Who Got the Brexit Blues? Using a Quasi-Experiment to Show the Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK

Author

Listed:
  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh

    () (University of Warwick)

  • Plagnol, Anke C.

    () (City University London)

  • Frijters, Paul

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Clark, Andrew E.

    () (Paris School of Economics)

Abstract

We use the 2015-2016 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 find that those reporting a preference for leaving the EU were 0.14 points less satisfied with life pre-referendum, with both misery (life satisfaction below 5) and job uncertainty significantly predicting the preference for a Leave vote. Post-referendum, those with leave preferences enjoyed a life satisfaction rise of 0.16 points, while there was a drop of 0.15 points for those preferring to remain. The initial positive subjective wellbeing effect of the Brexit vote was particularly pronounced for male and older respondents who reported a preference for leaving the EU. However, adaptation to the Brexit result appears to be complete three months after the EU Referendum date, both for those who preferred continued EU membership and those who did not.

Suggested Citation

  • Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Plagnol, Anke C. & Frijters, Paul & Clark, Andrew E., 2017. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? Using a Quasi-Experiment to Show the Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11206, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11206
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    2. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
    3. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
    4. Ward, George, 2015. "Is happiness a predictor of election results?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 61698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Liberini, Federica & Oswald, Andrew J & Proto, Eugenio & Redoano, Michela, 2017. "Was Brexit Caused by the Unhappy and the Old?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 342, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Are there Geographical Variations in the Psychological Cost of Unemployment in South Africa?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(3), pages 629-652, February.
    7. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2005. "Partisan Social Happiness," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 367-393.
    8. Robert Metcalfe & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Paul Dolan, 2011. "Destruction and Distress: Using a Quasi‐Experiment to Show the Effects of the September 11 Attacks on Mental Well‐Being in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(550), pages 81-103, February.
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    13. Cillian Ryan, 2016. "Where does one start to make sense of Brexit?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 531-537, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kavetsos, Georgios & Kawachi, Ichiro & Kyriopoulos, Ilias & Vandoros, Sotiris, 2018. "The effect of the Brexit referendum result on subjective well-being," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91709, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    life satisfaction; Brexit; United Kingdom; democracy;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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