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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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  1. 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.
  2. Knabe, Andreas & Rätzel, Steffen & Schöb, Ronnie & Weimann, Joachim, 2009. "Dissatisfied with life, but having a good day: time-use and well-being of the unemployed," Discussion Papers 2009/13, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  3. Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Culture and institutions: economic development in the regions of Europe," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000241, David K. Levine.
  4. Stutzer, Alois & Lalive, Rafael, 2001. "The Role of Social Work Norms in Job Searching and Subjective Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 300, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  6. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2008. "Direct democracy and life satisfaction revisited: new evidence for Switzerland," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 227-255, June.
  8. Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2008. "Happiness and Productivity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 882, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Claudia Senik, 2014. "The French Unhappiness Puzzle: the Cultural Dimension of Happiness," PSE Working Papers halshs-00628837, HAL.
  11. Baetschmann, Gregori & Staub, Kevin E. & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2011. "Consistent Estimation of the Fixed Effects Ordered Logit Model," IZA Discussion Papers 5443, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Andrew E. Clark & Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2008. "Unemployment as a social norm in Germany," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586249, HAL.
  15. Clark, Andrew E & Georgellis, Yannis & Sanfey, Peter, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-41, May.
  16. R. Veenhoven, 2008. "Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 449-469, September.
  17. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2007. "Is It Culture or Democracy? The Impact of Democracy and Culture on Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(3), pages 505-526, July.
  18. 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.
  19. Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2008. "You’re Fired! The Causal Negative Effect of Unemployment on Life Satisfaction," Ruhr Economic Papers 0063, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  20. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
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