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How political systems and social welfare policies affect well-being: A literature review

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  • Robert MacCulloch

    () (University of Auckland)

Abstract

This chapter focusses on the question of how formal institutions, like those governing the level of freedom, the regulatory state, political parties and the generosity of the welfare state, affect self-reported well-being. The evidence suggests, for example, that more freedom, as well as government structures which encourage civic engagement, participation and trust, have positive effects. Many studies, however, use cross-sectional data with small sample sizes, often due to institutions being measured at the country level with limited variation over time. As a consequence, further work is needed to test robustness. Stronger results hold with respect to particular types of welfare state institutions, like unemployment benefits, which are subject to quite frequent changes within nations. Increases in unemployment benefits are associated with higher levels of well-being for all workers, probably due to greater income security. However, doubt still persists as to their overall impact, due to the extent to which well-being is adversely affected by the higher taxes needed to support a more generous welfare state.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert MacCulloch, 2017. "How political systems and social welfare policies affect well-being: A literature review," Working Papers 17_14, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:17_14
    as

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    File URL: http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/17_14.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
    2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
    3. Helliwell, John F. & Huang, Haifang, 2008. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 595-619, October.
    4. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "Regulation and Distrust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1015-1049.
    5. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina Fischer, 2007. "The bigger the better? Evidence of the effect of government size on life satisfaction around the world," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 267-292, March.
    6. Pierce, Lamar & Rogers, Todd & Snyder, Jason A., 2016. "Losing Hurts: The Happiness Impact of Partisan Electoral Loss," Journal of Experimental Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(01), pages 44-59, March.
    7. Gruber Jonathan H & Mullainathan Sendhil, 2005. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-45, July.
    8. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2012. "Happy Taxpayers? Income Taxation and Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 6999, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Lorenz Blume & Jens Müller & Stefan Voigt, 2009. "The economic effects of direct democracy—a first global assessment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 431-461, September.
    10. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wellbeing; government structures; welfare state; unemployment benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • E71 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on the Macro Economy
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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