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Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?

  • David G. Blanchflower

Previous literature has found that both unemployment and inflation lower happiness. This paper extends the literature by looking at more countries over a longer time period. It also considers the impacts on happiness of GDP per capita and interest rates. I find, conventionally, that both higher unemployment and higher inflation lower happiness. Interest rates are also found to enter happiness equations negatively. Changes in GDP per capita have little impact on more economically developed countries, but do have a positive impact in the poorest countries -- consistent with the Easterlin hypothesis. I find that unemployment depresses well-being more than inflation. The least educated and the old are more concerned about unemployment than inflation. Conversely, the young and the most educated are more concerned about inflation. An individual's experience of high inflation over their adult lifetime lowers their current happiness over and above the effects from inflation and unemployment. Unemployment appears to be more costly than inflation in terms of its impact on wellbeing.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13505.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13505
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  1. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index : The Paradox of Australia," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 726, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Blanchflower, D., 1989. "Fear, Unemployment And Pay Flexibility," Papers 344, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  5. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Hypertension and Happiness across Nations," IZA Discussion Papers 2633, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  7. Blanchflower, David G., 2008. "International Evidence on Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 3354, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well-Being," Research Papers 1751r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  9. Blanchflower, D-G & Oswald, A-J, 1997. "The Rising Well-Being of the Young," Papers 16, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  10. Blanchflower, David G. & Shadforth, Chris, 2007. "Entrepreneurship in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 2818, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 3075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
  13. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2006. "Money and Mental Wellbeing : A Longitudinal Study of Medium-Sized Lottery Wins," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 754, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  14. Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia Is Not a Paradox," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 39(2), pages 176-184, 06.
  15. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  16. David G. Blanchflower & Richard B. Freeman, 2000. "Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blan00-1, September.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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