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New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from the subjective well-being of 2.3 million Americans

Author

Listed:
  • Helliwell, John

    (University of British Columbia)

  • Huang, Haifang

    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

Abstract

By exploiting two very large samples of US subjective well-being data we are able to obtain comparable estimates of the monetary and other costs of unemployment on the unemployed themselves, while simultaneously estimating the effects of local employment on the subjective well-being of the rest of the population. For those who are unemployed, the subjective well-being consequences can be divided into income and non-income effects, with the latter being five times larger than the former. This is similar to what has been found in many countries, as is our finding that the non-income effects are lower for individuals living in areas of high unemployment. Most importantly, we are able to use the large sample size and variety of questions in the BRFSS and Gallup daily polls to reconcile, and extend to the United States, what had previously seemed to be contradictory results on the size and nature of the spillover effects of unemployment on subjective well-being. At the population level the spillover effects are twice as large as the direct effects, making the total well-being costs of unemployment fifteen times larger than those directly due to the lower incomes of the unemployed.

Suggested Citation

  • Helliwell, John & Huang, Haifang, 2011. "New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from the subjective well-being of 2.3 million Americans," Working Papers 2011-3, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2011_003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. FED STUDY: We Conservatively Estimate That The Financial Crisis Cost Us Up To $14 Trillion
      by Rob Wile in Business Insider on 2013-07-30 04:09:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Abel Brodeur & Sarah Flèche, 2013. "Where the Streets Have a Name: Income Comparisons in the US," CEP Discussion Papers dp1196, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Wen-Hao Chen & Feng Hou, 2019. "The Effect of Unemployment on Life Satisfaction: A Cross-National Comparison Between Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 14(4), pages 1035-1058, September.
    3. Lars Osberg, 2011. "Why Did Unemployment Disappear from Official Macro-Economic Policy Discourse in Canada?," New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart, in: Fred Gorbet & Andrew Sharpe (ed.),New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart, pages 127-162, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    4. Alexander Krauss & Carol Graham, 2013. "Subjective wellbeing in Colombia: some insights on vulnerability, job security, and relative incomes," International Journal of Happiness and Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(3), pages 233-260.
    5. Timothy J. Bartik, 2013. "Social Costs of Jobs Lost Due to Environmental Regulations," Upjohn Working Papers 13-193, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    6. Michael Landesmann & Isilda Mara, 2013. "Do I Stay because I am Happy or am I Happy because I Stay? Life Satisfaction in Migration, and the Decision to Stay Permanently, Return and Out-migrate," wiiw Working Papers 103, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    7. Timothy J. Bartik, 2014. "How Effects of Local Labor Demand Shocks Vary with Local Labor Market Conditions," Upjohn Working Papers 14-202, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; well-being;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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