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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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13505.pdf
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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
Note: LS ME EFG
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  1. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  2. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2007. "Hypertension and Happiness across Nations," NBER Working Papers 12934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David G. Blanchflower, 1990. "Fear, Unemployment and Pay Flexibility," NBER Working Papers 3365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 2000. "The Rising Well-Being of the Young," NBER Chapters, in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 289-328 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Wellbeing," NBER Working Papers 9619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  9. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1733-1749, April.
  10. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2006. "Money and Mental Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Study of Medium-Sized Lottery Wins," IZA Discussion Papers 2233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia," NBER Working Papers 11416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia is Not a Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 505, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  14. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Blanchflower, David G. & Shadforth, Chris, 2007. "Entrepreneurship in the UK," Foundations and Trends(R) in Entrepreneurship, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 257-364, July.
  17. 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, May.
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