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Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being

Listed author(s):
  • Michael L. Anderson
  • Fangwen Lu
  • Yiran Zhang
  • Jun Yang
  • Ping Qin

Congestion plays a central role in urban and transportation economics. Existing estimates of congestion costs rely on stated or revealed preferences studies. We explore a complementary measure of congestion costs based on self-reported happiness. Exploiting quasi-random variation in daily congestion in Beijing that arises because of superstitions about the number four, we estimate a strong effect of daily congestion on self-reported happiness. When benchmarking this effect against the relationship between income and self-reported happiness we compute implied congestion costs that are several times larger than conventional estimates. Several factors, including the value of reliability and externalities on non-travelers, can reconcile our alternative estimates with the existing literature.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21551.

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Date of creation: Sep 2015
Publication status: published as Michael L. Anderson & Fangwen Lu & Yiran Zhang & Jun Yang & Ping Qin, 2016. "Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Public Economics, .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21551
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