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Subjective well-being and the duration of aggregate unemployment in Europe

  • Ochsen, Carsten

This study examines whether the distribution of aggregate unemployment by duration affects individual well-being. Two hypotheses are provided to explain how the shares of short-term (up to 3 months) and long-term (more than 1 year) unemployed people could affect the well-being of the employed and unemployed: The severity hypothesis and the flow hypothesis. Using data from almost 300,000 individuals from 11 EU countries, an ordered probit estimator is used to analyze the impact of the distribution of aggregate unemployment by duration on individual well-being. We find significant evidence in favor of both the severity and the flow hypotheses. Hence, the fear of losing (or not finding) a job is more detrimental when the prospect is to remain unemployed for a longer time. At some point, however, both the employed and unemployed adapt to unemployment at the macro level. Using an alternative specification that allows for a duration-specific risk of becoming/being unemployed, we arrive at similar conclusions. What seems to bother people is thus not just the risk of becoming/remaining unemployed, but more so the risk of being out of work for 4 to 12 months.

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Paper provided by University of Rostock, Institute of Economics in its series Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory with number 97.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:roswps:97
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  1. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
  2. Andrew E. Clark, 2006. "A Note on Unhappiness and Unemployment Duration," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 52(4), pages 291-308.
  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Blanchflower, David G., 2001. "Unemployment, Well-Being, and Wage Curves in Eastern and Central Europe," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 364-402, December.
  5. Carol Graham & Stefano Pettinato, 2001. "Happiness, Markets, and Democracy: Latin America in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 237-268, September.
  6. Ochsen, Carsten & Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "The social costs of unemployment: Accounting for unemployment duration," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 60, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
  7. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Diamond, Peter A, 1994. "Ranking, Unemployment Duration, and Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 417-34, July.
  8. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1992. "Loss of Skill during Unemployment and the Persistence of Employment Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1371-91, November.
  9. Ochsen, Carsten & Welsch, Heinz, 2012. "Who benefits from labor market institutions? Evidence from surveys of life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 112-124.
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