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Does watching TV make us happy?

  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Christine Benesch
  • Alois Stutzer

The paper studies a major human activity – that of watching TV - where many individuals have incomplete control over, and foresight into, their own behavior. As a consequence, they watch more TV than they consider optimal for themselves and their well-being is lower than what could be achieved. Mainly people with significant opportunity costs of time regret the amount of time spent watching TV. They report lower subjective well-being when watching TV for many hours. For others, there is no negative effect on life satisfaction from watching TV. Long hours spent in front of a TV are linked to higher material aspirations and anxiety and therewith lower life satisfaction.

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File URL: http://www.iew.uzh.ch/wp/iewwp241.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 241.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:241
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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Working papers 2008/01, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
  4. Giacomo Corneo, 2002. "Work and Television," CESifo Working Paper Series 829, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Addiction and Present-Biased Preferences," Working Papers 02-10, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  6. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Gruber Jonathan H & Mullainathan Sendhil, 2005. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-45, July.
  8. Sen, Amartya, 1995. "Rationality and Social Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 1-24, March.
  9. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
  10. George Loewenstein, Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Economics Working Papers E00-284, University of California at Berkeley.
  11. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
  12. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2004. "Job Search and Impatience," NBER Working Papers 10837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  14. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  15. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  16. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Value Surveys," Working Papers 89, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  17. Gershuny, Jonathan, 2000. "Changing Times: Work and Leisure in Postindustrial Society," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287872, March.
  18. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
  19. L. J. Shrum & James E. Burroughs & Aric Rindfleisch, 2005. "Television's Cultivation of Material Values," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 473-479, December.
  20. Bruni, Luigino & Stanca, Luca, 2008. "Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 506-528, March.
  21. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  22. O'Guinn, Thomas C & Shrum, L J, 1997. " The Role of Television in the Construction of Consumer Reality," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 278-94, March.
  23. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  24. repec:ese:iserwp:2001-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
  26. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2009. "Time-Inconsistency And Welfare Program Participation: Evidence From The Nlsy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1043-1077, November.
  27. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
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