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Work to Live or Live to Work? Unemployment, Happiness, and Culture

  • Krause, Annabelle

    ()

    (IZA)

Happiness drops when individuals become unemployed. The negative impact of the unemployment shock, however, may differ by cultural background. To test the hypothesis of a 'Teutonic work ethic', this paper takes advantage of Switzerland in its cultural diversity. By comparing different cultural groups in the same institutional setting, I empirically test whether such deep psychological traits have an influence on how unemployment is perceived. It is found that unemployment has a significantly negative effect on life satisfaction in Switzerland. I furthermore present evidence which confirms to some extent the hypothesis that Swiss German individuals suffer more from unemployment, although for the most part, these results are without statistical significance. Swiss Germans are additionally found to be happier than their French-speaking compatriots – independent of whether they are unemployed. This difference between Romanic and Germanic cultural backgrounds is in line with previous findings, but deserves further research attention.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6101.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6101
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  2. 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.
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  9. Stefan Boes & Rainer Winkelmann, 2010. "The Effect of Income on General Life Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 111-128, January.
  10. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
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  15. Andrew Clark & Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2009. "Unemployment as a Social Norm in Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 251-260.
  16. DAVID DORN & Justina Fischer & GEBHARD KIRCHGÄSSNER & ALFONSO SOUSA-POZA, 2005. "Is It Culture or Democracy? The Impact of Democracy, Income, and Culture on Happiness," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2005 2005-12, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
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