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Television, Health, and Happiness: A Natural Experiment in West Germany

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  • Chadi, Adrian

    (University of Konstanz)

  • Hoffmann, Manuel

    (Texas A&M University)

Abstract

Watching television is the most time-consuming human activity besides work but its role for individual well-being is unclear. Negative consequences portrayed in the literature raise the question whether this popular pastime constitutes an economic good or bad, and hence serves as a prime example of irrational behavior reducing individual health and happiness. Using rich panel data, we are the first to comprehensively address this question by exploiting a large-scale natural experiment in West Germany, where people in geographically restricted areas received commercial TV via terrestrial frequencies. Contrary to previous research, we find no health impact when TV consumption increases. For life satisfaction, we even find positive effects. Additional analyses support the notion that TV is not an economic bad and that non-experimental evidence seems to be driven by negative self-selection.

Suggested Citation

  • Chadi, Adrian & Hoffmann, Manuel, 2021. "Television, Health, and Happiness: A Natural Experiment in West Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 14721, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14721
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; happiness; well-being; natural experiment; television consumption; time-use; entertainment; CSPT; ArcGIS; mass media;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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