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Happiness, Contentment and Other Emotions for Central Banks

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  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Robert MacCulloch

Abstract

We show that data on satisfaction with life from over 600,000 Europeans are negatively correlated with the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. Our preferred interpretation is that this shows that emotions are affected by macroeconomic fluctuations. Contentment is, at a minimum, one of the important emotions that central banks should focus on. More ambitiously, contentment might be considered one of the components of utility. The results may help central banks understand the tradeoffs that the public is willing to accept in terms of unemployment for inflation, at least in terms of keeping the average level of one particular emotion (contentment) constant. An alternative use of these data is to study the particular channels through which macroeconomics affects emotions. Finally, work in economics on the design of monetary policy makes several assumptions (e.g., a representative agent, a summary measure of emotions akin to utility exists and that individuals only care about income and leisure) that can be used to interpret our results as weights in a social loss function.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness, Contentment and Other Emotions for Central Banks," NBER Working Papers 13622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13622
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarracino, Francesco, 2013. "Determinants of subjective well-being in high and low income countries: Do happiness equations differ across countries?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 51-66.
    2. David G. Blanchflower, 2009. "International Evidence on Well-Being," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 155-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Blanchflower, David G., 2009. "Happiness and Health Care Coverage," IZA Discussion Papers 4450, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Stracca, Livio, 2014. "Financial imbalances and household welfare: Empirical evidence from the EU," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 11(C), pages 82-91.
    5. Carlos Medina & Leonardo Morales & Jairo Nuñez, 2008. "Quality of Life in Urban Neighborhoods in Colombia: The Cases of Bogotá and Medellín," Borradores de Economia 536, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    6. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2008. "Happiness Adaptation to Income beyond "Basic Needs"," NBER Working Papers 14539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Becchetti, Leonardo & Castriota, Stefano & Giuntella, Giovanni Osea, 2010. "The effects of age and job protection on the welfare costs of inflation and unemployment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 137-146, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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