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Well-being across America

  • Oswald, Andrew J.


    (University of Warwick)

  • Wu, Stephen


    (Hamilton College)

This paper uses new Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to provide the first estimates of well-being across the states of America. From this sample of 1.3 million US citizens, we analyze measures of life satisfaction and mental health. Adjusting for people's characteristics, states such as Louisiana and DC have high psychological well-being levels while California and West Virginia have low well-being; there is no correlation between states' well-being and their GDP per capita. Correcting for people's incomes, satisfaction with life is lowest in the rich states. We discuss implications for the arbitrage theory that regions provide equal utility and compensating differentials.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4600.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2011, 93 (4), 1118-1134
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4600
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  1. Moro, Mirko & Brereton, Finbarr & Ferreira, Susana & Clinch, J. Peter, 2008. "Ranking quality of life using subjective well-being data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 448-460, April.
  2. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson, 2008. "Happiness, unhappiness, and suicide: an empirical assessment," Working Paper Series 2008-19, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  5. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," CEPR Discussion Papers 7311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Simon Luechinger, 2009. "Valuing Air Quality Using the Life Satisfaction Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 482-515, 03.
  8. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
  9. Stuart A. Gabriel & Joe P. Mattey & William L. Wascher, 1996. "Compensating differentials and evolution of the quality-of-life among U.S. states," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 96-07, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. M. Pittau & Roberto Zelli & Andrew Gelman, 2010. "Economic Disparities and Life Satisfaction in European Regions," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 339-361, April.
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  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:963-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 615, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  14. Douglas J. Krupka & Kwame N. Donaldson, 2013. "Wages, Rents, And Heterogeneous Moving Costs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 844-864, 01.
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  16. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 441-454, 06.
  17. Propper, Carol & Jones, Kelvyn & Bolster, Anne & Burgess, Simon & Johnston, Ron & Sarker, Rebecca, 2005. "Local neighbourhood and mental health: Evidence from the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(10), pages 2065-2083, November.
  18. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  19. Theodossiou, I., 1998. "The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: A logistic regression approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-104, January.
  20. 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.
  21. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
  22. Oswald, Andrew J & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence : Theory and Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 793, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  23. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
  24. 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.
  25. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2009. "The U-Shape without Controls," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 896, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  26. Victoria Cramer & Svenn Torgersen & Einar Kringlen, 2004. "Quality of Life in a City: The Effect of Population Density," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 103-116, October.
  27. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  30. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
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  32. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  33. Easterlin, Richard A., 2006. "Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 463-482, August.
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