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Well-being and economic conditions in Ireland

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  • Brendan M. Walsh

Abstract

By European standards Ireland ranks high on many non-economic indicators of well-being. This paper explores how macroeconomic conditions have affected a range of these indicators. Time series data are used to explore the association between unemployment, inflation, and the level and growth rate of real income on the one hand and measures of subjective well-being and markers of mental health on the other. Over the longer term, 1975-2011, there was no upward trend in self-reported life satisfaction despite the secular improvement in living standards. While higher unemployment reduced life satisfaction over the first half of this period, its effect was weaker in later years. The rate of inflation has not had a significant effect on life satisfaction. There is no evidence that admission rates to psychiatric hospitals are affected by changes in economic conditions. However, higher unemployment is linked to higher suicide rates among younger males, although its effect appears to have weakened during the current recession. Finally, the recent rise in unemployment has had a much smaller impact on the birth rate than that due to the recession of the early 1980s. Overall, the impact of the current recession on the well-being indicators studied here has been surprisingly small.

Suggested Citation

  • Brendan M. Walsh, 2011. "Well-being and economic conditions in Ireland," Working Papers 201127, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201127
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/3681
    File Function: First version, 2011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    3. Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel & Ronnie Schöb & Joachim Weimann, 2010. "Dissatisfied with Life but Having a Good Day: Time-use and Well-being of the Unemployed," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 867-889, September.
    4. Luis Angeles, 2010. "Children and Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 523-538, August.
    5. David Madden, 2009. "Mental stress in Ireland, 1994-2000: a stochastic dominance approach," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(10), pages 1202-1217.
    6. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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