Newsletter de l’Observatoire du Bien-être n°34 – Septembre 2020

L’équipe de l’Observatoire vous souhaite une bonne rentrée. Nous avons publié en juillet une Note jointe avec le Crédoc qui fait le point sur la manière dont les situations ont influé sur le ressenti du confinement. Nous mettons en évidence des clivages générationnels, le rôle central de la place disponible dans les conditions matérielles, et un intérêt certain pour le télétravail.

Dans un contexte qui reste dominé par l’épidémie, nous relevons de nombreuses contributions sur ce thème, soit portant sur les conséquences de l’épidémie elle-même, soit faisant usage de l’expérience naturelle qu’elle représente. Nous relevons également plusieurs autres contributions, dont un document de travail de l’Insee et un du Crest, qui montrent une mobilisation croissante des indicateurs de bien-être subjectifs pour mesurer la vision que les Français ont de l’évolution de l’économie (Insee) ou les conséquences de réformes publiques d’ampleur (la fusion des régions, Crest).


Note de l’Observatoire no2020-07 : Heurs et malheurs du confinement

Rédigée en partenariat avec le Crédoc, cette Note mobilise la vague flash de l’enquête Conditions de vie et aspirations réalisée en avril 2020. Nous mettons en évidence des expériences très contrastées du confinement : les jeunes ont trouvé la période particulièrement pénible. Au niveau matériel, c’est avant tout l’espace disponible qui structure les ressentis. Parallèlement, la période a entraîné une réévaluation de leur situation par beaucoup de répondants, à commencer par celles et ceux qui ont découvert dans le travail à distance un nouveau mode d’organisation professionnelle.

Dylan Alezra, Sandra Hoibian, Mathieu Perona, Claudia Senik, « Heurs et malheurs du confinement », Observatoire du Bien-être du CEPREMAP, n°2020-07, 08 Juillet 2020

Children, Unhappiness and Family Finances

Abstract: The common finding of a zero or negative correlation between the presence of children and parental well-being continues to generate research interest. We here consider international data, including well over one million observations on Europeans from eleven years of Eurobarometer surveys, and in the first instance replicate this negative finding, both in the overall data and then for most different marital statuses. Children are expensive: controlling for financial difficulties turns our estimated child coefficients positive. We argue that difficulties paying the bills explains the pattern of existing results by parental education and income, and country income and social support. Last, we underline that not all children are the same, with stepchildren commonly having a more negative correlation than children from the current relationship.

Blanchflower, David G.; Clark, Andrew E. (2020): “Children, Unhappines sand Family Finances”, GLO Discussion Paper, No. 561, Global Labor Organization (GLO),Essen

The Long-run Effects of Housing on Well-Being

Abstract: This paper provides one of the first tests of adaptation to a full set of residential transitions. We use long-run SOEP panel data and consider the impact of all housing transitions, whether or not they involve a change in housing tenure or geographical movement, on both life satisfaction and housing satisfaction. Controlling for individual characteristics and housing quality, some residential transitions affect life satisfaction only little, while all transitions have a significant effect on housing satisfaction. This latter is particularly large for renters who become homeowners and move geographically, and for renters who move without changing tenure status. Regarding housing satisfaction, we find very little evidence of adaptation even after five years. Losing homeowner status is the only transition that reduces housing satisfaction, and here the effect seems to become even more negative over time.

Clark, Andrew E.; Díaz Serrano, Lluís, “The Long-run Effects of Housing on Well-Being”, Working Papers from Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 2020.


Enquête CoviPrev

Nous l’avions manquée dans notre précédente newsletter : Santé Publique France a inclus dans son enquête CoviPrev un suivi semaine par semaine d’un ensemble d’indicateurs de santé mentale, donc la satisfaction dans la vie. Ils peuvent ainsi confirmer que l’amélioration de cette métrique, que nous avons relevée dans notre dernière note trimestrielle, date bien du déconfinement.

Graphique Santé Publique France

On peut consulter la présentation de l’étude sur le site de Santé Publique France, ainsi que le long entretien donné par Patrick Peretti-Watel pour France Culture.

Compliance with social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis

Abstract: If social distancing is crucial to slow the spread of Covid-19, it is important to know what determines whether individuals will effectively adopt the practice. This column draws on real time data collected across many different countries to document important drivers of compliance with social distancing. These drivers are found to vary with social capital, trust in government and political beliefs.

Paola Giuliano, Imran Rasul, “Compliance with social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis”, VoxEU, 18 June 2020

Childcare during a global pandemic: Many women left juggling work and childcare, but men do their share when they are not working

Abstract: The closure of schools and nurseries during the current pandemic has led to a huge burden of additional childcare for parents. This column discusses how survey data collected at the beginning of May 2020 that asked about employment and childcare pre- and post-COVID to shows that women have borne the majority of this burden and many have been left juggling work and childcare. However, fathers have also increased the time they spend on childcare and, when they are not working, there is an equal allocation.

Almudena Sevilla, Sarah Smith, “Childcare during a global pandemic: Many women left juggling work and childcare, but men do their share when they are not working”, VoxEU,16 June 2020

How can a well-being lens aid COVID-19 recovery?

From the OECD Statistics Newsletter, July 2020

Using a well-being lens can help governments in the COVID-19 recovery phase by helping them identify pre-existing vulnerabilities to target support, highlight areas not on the government’s immediate radar, and build greater resilience in the systems that support well-being over time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased and broadened inequality in psychological distress in the UK

The economic and policy response to COVID-19 has created specific gradients in both exposure to the disease itself and in exposure to the economic impact of the lockdown. This column uses survey data to show that inequality in psychological distress has increased since the pandemic in the UK. However, the proportion of inequality explained by observed individual circumstances has decreased. Pre-pandemic, the largest contributors were financial, employment and housing conditions. By April 2020, age and gender accounted for a larger share, through the impact of the pandemic on mental wellbeing among young people. Working in COVID-affected industries, household composition and parental occupation have also increased their association with the inequality in psychological distress.

Apostolos Davillas, Andrew M Jones, “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased and broadened inequality in psychological distress in the UK”,VoxEU30 June 2020

The real cost of political polarisation: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract: There is significant dispersion in beliefs about the pandemic and its economic implications. This column uses new high-frequency and nationally representative data to document the overwhelming importance of political affiliation as a determinant of these beliefs and the adverse effects of partisanship on local economic activity. In the US, Republicans are significantly less worried about COVID-19 and less likely to expect a long-term disruption due to the virus. These results suggest that the macroeconomic effects of the pandemic on consumption may depend on behavioural factors, like political affiliation.

Christos Makridis, Jonathan Rothwell, “The real cost of political polarisation: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic”, VoxEU, 10 July 2020

Testing the effects of reminders to promote social distancing

Abstract: Reminders to encourage social distancing have been used widely by the authorities around the world during the crisis. Based on a randomised controlled trial conducted in Denmark, this column shows what types of messages are most (and least) effective in convincing people to stay home. People’s good intentions often do not translate into the desired actions. Reminders significantly increase compliance with social distancing among people in poor health who face the greatest risks.

Paolo Falco, Sarah Zaccagni, “Testing the effects of reminders to promote social distancing”,VoxEU, 09 July 2020

Fighting suicide during COVID-19: Lessons from past pandemics and recessions

Fear and imposed isolation due to COVID-19 have raised alarms about the impact on mental health on a global scale. The severe anticipated global recession and substantial increases in unemployment and indebtedness are both risk factors for suicide. This column reviews past similar scenarios of pandemics and recessions and its links to suicide. The recipe for preventing suicide amidst the COVID-19 pandemic includes investment in mental healthcare, such as providing suicide prevention services, and active employment policies.

Eudora Ribeiro, “Fighting suicide during COVID-19: Lessons from past pandemics and recessions”,VoxEU,12 August 2020

Lu sur le Web

Au-delà du PIB, une estimation PIB ressenti en Europe et aux États-Unis

Résumé : L’article tente de définir et de calculer un «PIB ressenti», par analogie avec la température ressentie utilisée par les météorologues. C’est en ces termes que nous interprétons une fonction standard de bien-être social de Kolm-Atkinson, estimée avec les micro-données de satisfaction dans la vie rapportées dans les enquêtes Euro-SILC. En utilisant les données longues de distribution de revenu du World Inequality Lab, nous mettons en évidence, aux États-Unis, une stagnation au cours des 40 dernières années du PIB ressenti ainsi défini, signifiant que la croissance économique n’y a pas entraîné un meilleur bien-être monétaire global. Dans l’intervalle, dans la plupart des pays européens, sauf au cours des dernières années, le PIB ressenti et le PIB ont évolué de manière similaire. Nous montrons également que les ralentissements économiques ont duré beaucoup plus longtemps, en terme de bien-être monétaire, que mesurés par le PIB. En effet, le PIB réel des États-Unis a mis 10 ans pour retrouver son niveau d’avant la crise après le deuxième choc pétrolier; près de 10 ans après le ralentissement de 2008, le PIB réel européen n’avait pas encore retrouvé son niveau d’avant la crise.

Jean-Marc Germain, « Au-delà du PIB, une estimation PIB ressenti en Europe et aux Etats-Unis », Document de travail G2020/03, Insee, 2020-08-06,

Subnational borders and individual well-being: Evidence from the merger of French regions

Abstract: Using the 2016 merger of French regions as a natural experiment, this paper adopts a difference-in-difference identification strategy to recover its causal impact on individual subjective well-being. No depressing effect is found despite increased centralization and higher local public spending, an intended effect of the merger. Life satisfaction has even increased in regions that were absorbed from economic and political viewpoints. The empirical evidence suggests that local economic performance improved in the concerned regions, which includes a faster decline in the unemployment rate. In this setting, economic gains have likely outweighed cultural attachment to administrative regions.

Lionel Wilner, “Subnational borders and individual well-being: Evidence from the merger of French regions”, CREST Working Paper 2020-20, 2020-07-09,

Trajectories of adolescent life satisfaction

Abstract: Increasing global policy interest in measuring and improving population wellbeing has prompted many academic investigations into the dynamics of life satisfaction across the lifespan. While numerous international projects now track adults’ life satisfaction trajectories, little research has simultaneously assessed both adults and adolescents using comparable samples and techniques. Yet adolescence harbours developmental changes that could affect wellbeing far into adulthood: adolescent life satisfaction trajectories are, therefore, critical to map and understand. Analysing data from 91,267 UK participants aged 10-80 years, sampled annually for up to 9 years, this study investigates how life satisfaction develops throughout adolescence. Using a latent growth curve approach, we find a decrease in life satisfaction during adolescence, which is steeper than at any other point across adolescence and adulthood. Further, adolescent females’ life satisfaction decreases earlier than males’; this is the only substantial gender difference in life satisfaction that emerges across the wide age range studied. The study highlights the importance of adopting a lifespan perspective with respect to subjective wellbeing in areas spanning research, policy and practice.

Orben, Amy, Richard E. Lucas, Delia Fuhrmann, and Rogier Kievit. 2020. “Trajectories of Adolescent Life Satisfaction.” PsyArXiv. August 20. doi:10.31234/

The Rise of Populism and the Revenge of the Places That Don’t Matter

Abstract: Populism is on the rise, especially in the developed world. It has gone from being a force to be reckoned with to becoming one of the main challenges for society today. But the causes behind its rise remain hotly debated. Many of the economic analyses of the ascent of populism have focused on growing inequalities – both from an interpersonal and territorial dimension. In this essay, I argue that the rise of the vote for anti-system parties is far more related to the long-term economic decline of places that have seen far better times and have been disadvantaged by processes that have rendered them exposed and somewhat ‘expendable’ than to increases inequality. Fixing this type of ‘places that don’t matter’ is possibly one of the best ways to tackle anti-system voting. This will imply the implementation of well-targeted place-sensitive polices, going beyond the traditional wealthy and less developed places that have attracted the bulk of investment and considering long-term economic trajectories.

Rodríguez-Pose, A., 2020. “The Rise of Populism and the Revenge of the Places That Don’t Matter.” LSE Public Policy Review, 1(1), p.4. DOI:

Abstract: Though women have achieved near parity with men among new hires at large law firms, they still hold notably few positions of leadership in the profession broadly. This column reviews international evidence of career trajectories in the legal sector using employment records from one of the largest multinational law firms. In addition to providing new facts about career dynamics for a sizable share of the global legal workforce, the column details differences in institutions and national cultures that contribute to disparities in gender mobility.

Ina Ganguli, Ricardo Hausmann, Martina Viarengo, “Around the world in the legal profession: Women get in, but not up”, VoxEU, 09 July 2020

RCTs to Scale: Comprehensive Evidence from Two Nudge Units

Abstract: Nudge interventions have quickly expanded from academic studies to larger implementation in so-called Nudge Units in governments. This provides an opportunity to compare interventions in research studies, versus at scale. We assemble a unique data set of 126 RCTs covering over 23 million individuals, including all trials run by two of the largest Nudge Units in the United States. We compare these trials to a sample of nudge trials published in academic journals from two recent meta-analyses. In papers published in academic journals, the average impact of a nudge is very large – an 8.7 percentage point take-up effect, a 33.5% increase over the average control. In the Nudge Unit trials, the average impact is still sizable and highly statistically significant, but smaller at 1.4 percentage points, an 8.1% increase. We consider five potential channels for this gap: statistical power, selective publication, academic involvement, differences in trial features and in nudge features. Publication bias in the academic journals, exacerbated by low statistical power, can account for the full difference in effect sizes. Academic involvement does not account for the difference. Different features of the nudges, such as in-person versus letter-based communication, likely reflecting institutional constraints, can partially explain the different effect sizes. We conjecture that larger sample sizes and institutional constraints, which play an important role in our setting, are relevant in other at-scale implementations. Finally, we compare these results to the predictions of academics and practitioners. Most forecasters overestimate the impact for the Nudge Unit interventions, though nudge practitioners are almost perfectly calibrated.

Stefano DellaVigna, Elizabeth Linos, “RCTs to Scale: Comprehensive Evidence from Two Nudge Units”, NBER Working Paper No. 27594, Issued in July 2020

Make Sure the Kids are OK: Indirect Effects of Ground-Level Ozone on Well-Being

Abstract: This paper uses a panel of German individuals and highly granular pollution data to test if air pollution affects adults’ well-being indirectly through the health of their children. Results show that ozone decreases the well-being of individuals with children while not affecting persons without kids. We confirm the same effect for fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. Concerning the mechanism, we find that above-median earners drive this effect and that ozone causes losses in workdays to care for a sick child, providing evidence on the children’s health channel to adults’ welfare losses.

Julia Rechlitz, Luis Sarmiento and Aleksandar Zaklan, “Make Sure the Kids are OK: Indirect Effects of Ground-Level Ozone on Well-Being”, No 1877, Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin from DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, 2020-06