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Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being

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  • Michael L. Anderson
  • Fangwen Lu
  • Yiran Zhang
  • Jun Yang
  • Ping Qin

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael L. Anderson & Fangwen Lu & Yiran Zhang & Jun Yang & Ping Qin, 2015. "Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 21551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21551
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    Cited by:

    1. Yew-Kwang NG, 2017. "Ten Rules for Public Economic Policy," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1703, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    2. Louis-Philippe Beland & Daniel A. Brent, 2017. "Traffic and Crime," Departmental Working Papers 2017-02, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    3. repec:bla:pacecr:v:22:y:2017:i:2:p:213-228 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy

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