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Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA

  • Blanchflower, David G.
  • Oswald, Andrew J.

This paper estimates micro-econometric happiness equations for the United States and Great Britain. Reported levels of wellbeing have declined over the last quarter of a century in the US; life satisfaction has run approximately flat through time in Britain. These findings are consistent with the Easterlin hypothesis (1974, 1995). The happiness of American blacks, however, has risen. Despite legislation on gender discrimination, the well-being of women has declined. White women in the US have been the biggest losers. Well-being equations have a stable structure. Money buys happiness. People care also about relative income. Wellbeing is U-shaped in age. The paper estimates the dollar values of events like unemployment and divorce. They are large. A lasting marriage (compared to widow-hood as a ‘natural’ experiment), for example, is estimated to be worth $100,000 a year.

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File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp616.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 616.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:616
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Web page: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/

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  1. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
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  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  25. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-22, September.
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