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Income, Happiness, and the Disutility of Labour

Author

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  • Andreas Knabe

    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Freie University Berlin)

  • Steffen Rätzel

    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

Abstract

We reexamine the claim that the effect of income on subjective well-being suffers from a systematic downward bias if one ignores that higher income is typically associated with more work effort. We analyze this claim using German panel data, controlling for individual unobserved heterogeneity, and specifying the impact of working hours in a non-monotonic form. Our results suggest that the impact of working hours on happiness is rather small and exhibits an inverse U-shape. We do not find evidence that leaving working hours out of the analysis leads to an underestimation of the income effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2009. "Income, Happiness, and the Disutility of Labour," FEMM Working Papers 09010, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:09010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    2. L. Booth, Alison & C. van Ours, Jan, 2007. "Job satisfaction and family happiness: the part-time work puzzle," ISER Working Paper Series 2007-20, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. repec:dgr:kubcen:200769 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pouwels, Babette & Siegers, Jacques & Vlasblom, Jan Dirk, 2008. "Income, working hours, and happiness," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 72-74, April.
    5. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    6. AlisonL. Booth & JanC. vanOurs, 2008. "Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-Time Work Puzzle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(526), pages 77-99, February.
    7. repec:pri:cepsud:125krueger is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bruno S. Frey, 2018. "Economics of Happiness," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, number 978-3-319-75807-7, September.
    9. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    10. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur A. Stone, 2006. "Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion," Working Papers 77, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Homann, Malte & Jensen, Uwe, 2013. "Does better education cause higher income?," HWWI Research Papers 145, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    2. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier B. & Jara, H. Xavier, 2017. "Back to Bentham, Should We? Large-Scale Comparison of Experienced versus Decision Utility," GLO Discussion Paper Series 52, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Martin Schröder, 2020. "Men Lose Life Satisfaction with Fewer Hours in Employment: Mothers Do Not Profit from Longer Employment—Evidence from Eight Panels," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 317-334, November.
    4. Peter H van der Meer & Rudi Wielers, 2011. "What makes workers happy?," Post-Print hal-00734530, HAL.
    5. Gerritsen, Aart, 2016. "Optimal taxation when people do not maximize well-being," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 122-139.
    6. Wolfgang Maennig & Markus Wilhelm, 2012. "Becoming (un)employed and life satisfaction: asymmetric effects and potential omitted variable bias in empirical happiness studies," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(17), pages 1719-1722.
    7. Robert Rudolf, 2014. "Work Shorter, Be Happier? Longitudinal Evidence from the Korean Five-Day Working Policy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(5), pages 1139-1163, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Life Satisfaction; Income; Working Hours;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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