Newsletter de l’Observatoire du Bien-être n°41 – Avril 2021

Nous poursuivons ce mois-ci nos travaux sur les relations entre éducation et bien-être avec un premier travail mobilisant les données PISA. Celles-ci nous permettent d’explorer les relations – complexes – entre bien-être et performances scolaires ainsi que l’écart entre filles et garçons dans ce domaine.

Comme chaque année, ce mois de mars est marqué par la publication du World Happiness Report, qui cette année est bien évidemment placé sous le signe des conséquences de l’épidémie. Nous relevons également de très nombreux articles qui placent les métriques de bien-être subjectif au centre de leur analyse.

Observatoire

Note de l’Observatoire du Bien-être n°2021-03 : Faut-il avoir des bonnes notes pour être heureux à 15 ans ?

À l’aide des enquêtes PISA, nous explorons les relations entre les performances scolaires, telles que mesurés par PISA, et le bien-être subjectif des élèves. Au-delà du confort d’être un bon ou une bonne élève, les résultats de PISA peignent un tableau plus nuancé, peuplé d’incertitudes sur le sens de la vie, d’écarts filles-garçons et du poids qu’ont les mathématiques dans le système scolaire français.

http://www.cepremap.fr/2021/03/note-de-lobservatoire-du-bien-etre-n2021-03-faut-il-avoir-des-bonnes-notes-pour-etre-heureux-a-15-ans/

Satisfaction dans la vie des adultes et des adolescents

Dans les travaux de préparation de la Note 2021-03, nous nous sommes demandés comment se comparent le bien-être à 15 ans et celui à l’âge adulte selon les pays. Cette comparaison pose de nombreuses question sur les effets de génération et du passage à l’âge adulte, alors nous lui avons consacré un billet de blog.

Bien-être en France

L’Insee a publié le 16 mars les résultats de la dernière vague SRCV (2019) sur les métriques de bien-être de cette enquête.

« Satisfaction dans la vie de 2010 à 2019 », Insee Résultats, 16 mars 2021.

World Happiness Report 2021

L’édition 2021 du World Happiness Report a été publiéee le 19 mars dernier, et présentée le lendemain, Journée internationale du bonheur.

Le Covid-19 constitue le thème central de ce rapport, autour de l’examen des conséquences de l’épidémie sur le bien-être, de l’analyse de la réaction des gouvernements et de la compréhension des différences dans les résultats de l’action publique.

Dans l’ensemble, la satisfaction de vie a faiblement diminué dans la plupart des pays par rapport aux trois années précédentes. C’est aussi ce que nous avons vu sur la France, mais avec des fluctuations marquées au cours de l’année. Les pays et régions présentant un haut niveau de confiance interpersonnelle et institutionnelle ont été moins affectés, à la fois du point de vue sanitaire et de celui du bien-être.

Covid-19

Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 26 March 2021

L’ONS britannique poursuit son suivi régulier des impacts de l’épidémie sur la population. L’institut publie un bulletin hebdomadaire avec les principaux indicateurs.

Lu sur le web

Greater Manchester Young People’s Wellbeing Programme

La ville-région de Manchester lance une grande étude sur le bien-être des enfants et des jeunes adultes, couvrant l’intégralité des écoles du Grand Manchester, avec une dimension longitudinale.

E-mail is making us miserable

Certes, les complaintes sur le stress et l’anxiété générés par l’usage constant du mail sont devenues un marronnier. Cet article du New Yorker dépasse cependant l’ornière si fréquente du solutionnisme, qu’il soit technologique (passez à tel logiciel) ou comportemental (réservez des plages spécifiques pour vos mails), pour mettre en évidence la manière dont le mail vient mobiliser notre aversion instinctive à la perte des relations sociales. Et par conséquent, pourquoi il est si difficile de trouver de bonnes parades à ses effets délétères.

Cal Newport, “E-mail is making us miserable”, The New Yorker, 2021-02-26.

The true returns to the choice of occupation and education

Abstract: Which occupations are best for wellbeing? There is a large literature on earnings differentials, but less attention has been paid to occupational differences in non-pecuniary rewards. However, information on both types of rewards is needed to understand the dispersion of wellbeing across occupations. We analyse subjective wellbeing in a large representative sample of UK workers to construct a measure of “full earnings”, the sum of earnings and the value of non-pecuniary rewards, in 90 different occupations. We first find that the dispersion of earnings underestimates the extent of inequality in the labour market: the dispersion of full earnings is one-third larger than the dispersion of earnings. Equally, the gender and ethnic gaps in the labour market are larger than data on earnings alone would suggest, and the true returns to completed secondary education (though not to a degree) are underestimated by earnings differences on their own. Finally, we show that our main results are similar, and stronger, for a representative sample of US workers.

Clark, Andrew, Cotofan, Maria and Layard, Richard, (2021), The true returns to the choice of occupation and education, CEP Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

Gender norms, fairness and relative working hours within households

Abstract: Using data in the United States, UK and Germany, we show that women whose working hours exceed those of their male partners report lower life satisfaction on average. By contrast, men do not report lower life satisfaction from working more hours than their female partners. An analysis of possible mechanisms shows that in couples where the woman works more hours than the man, women do not spend significantly less time doing household chores. Women with egalitarian ideologies are likely to perceive this unequal division of labour as unfair, ultimately reducing their life satisfaction.

Flèche, Sarah, Lepinteur, Anthony and Powdthavee, Nattavudh, (2020), Gender norms, fairness and relative working hours within households, Post-Print, HAL.

Happiness and Air Pollution

Abstract: I pose three questions: Does pollution make people unhappy? How much? And is the effect proportional to pollution’s estimated effects on mortality and productivity? Answers to those three questions must overcome three obstacles: unobserved characteristics of locales correlated with both pollution and happiness; selection by pollution-averse individuals to less polluted areas; and habituation by residents to local circumstances. Since 2010, when the initial few studies relating happiness to pollution were last surveyed, thirty more have been published. I discuss how the new studies tackle each of those three problems and I devise a method of comparing their findings despite their different measures of both happiness and pollution. I combine the happiness and income coefficients from each study into a willingness-to-pay measure, for a one-day, one-standard-deviation pollution reduction. Finally, I document a surprising concordance between those calculated willingness-to-pay measures and new research assessing the effects of pollution on mortality and productivity

Levinson, Arik, (2020), Happiness and Air Pollution, No gueconwpa~20-20-03, Working Papers, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.

Changes in Well-Being Around Elections

Abstract: Elections constitute the essential element of democracy, yet surprisingly little is known about their immediate consequences for individual well-being. Cross-country empirical evidence is particularly absent for the campaign period leading up to elections. While elections as a process allow citizens to contribute to democratic quality, they are also intrinsically conflictual and require voters to exert effort to make informed decisions. To measure the aggregate changes in well-being along the entirety of the electoral process, I use survey data from before and after 148 national elections in 24 European countries between 1989 and 2019. Respondents interviewed in the months preceding election day report significantly lower levels of life satisfaction than their compatriots asked the same calendar week but in years without elections. Once voting has taken place, aggregate well-being immediately returns to its regular average. Exploratory analyses suggest that partisan conflict and social pressures regarding democratic participation may play a role in explaining the reduction in life satisfaction before elections.

Schreiner, Nicolas, (2021), Changes in Well-Being Around Elections, Working papers, Faculty of Business and Economics – University of Basel.

Twitter Subjective Well-Being Indicator During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Country Comparative Study

Abstract: This study analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the subjective well-being as measured through Twitter data indicators for Japan and Italy. It turns out that, overall, the subjective well-being dropped by 11.7% for Italy and 8.3% for Japan in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the last two months of 2019 and even more compared to the historical mean of the indexes. Through a data science approach we try to identify the possible causes of this drop down by considering several explanatory variables including, climate and air quality data, number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Facebook Covid and flu symptoms global survey, Google Trends data and coronavirus-related searches, Google mobility data, policy intervention measures, economic variables and their Google Trends proxies, as well as health and stress proxy variables based on big data. We show that a simple static regression model is not able to capture the complexity of well-being and therefore we propose a dynamic elastic net approach to show how different group of factors may impact the well-being in different periods, even over a short time length, and showing further country-specific aspects. Finally, a structural equation modeling analysis tries to address the causal relationships among the COVID-19 factors and subjective well-being showing that, overall, prolonged mobility restrictions,flu and Covid-like symptoms, economic uncertainty, social distancing and news about the pandemic have negative effects on the subjective well-being.

Carpi, Tiziana, Hino, Airo, Iacus, Stefano and Porro, Giuseppe, (2021), Twitter Subjective Well-Being Indicator During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Country Comparative Study, Papers, arXiv.org.

How Conscious Are You of Others? Further Evidence on Relative Income and Happiness

Abstract: Extant research has found that an individual’s happiness is relative with respect to income, suggesting that it rises with own income and falls as the income of a reference group increases. Some recent studies emphasize that the effect of relative income is mediated by the extent to which people compare themselves with others (hereinafter, “relative consciousness”). Using the survey data of representative sample of Japan and the U.S., this paper extends the existing literature by providing a statistical evidence that underlines the importance of the intensity of relative consciousness in association with the perception of reference-group income in determining an individual’s happiness and his/her decision in line with the maximization of the utility. First, we find people who are highly conscious of others’ living standards are unhappier in Japan but happier in the U.S. This opposite effect between the two countries is also found to exist when the same estimation is conducted with panel data. Second, the positive relationship between relative consciousness and happiness found in the U.S. results from the perception of reference-group income: highly conscious people compare downward in the U.S. Lastly, we further examine the extent to which the integrated effect of relative consciousness and reference-group income is related to an individual’s decision that could affect the degree of happiness. We discuss how our results can drive a wedge between choice behavior and happiness maximization and thus between happiness and decision utility.

Sun Youn Lee & Fumio Ohtake, 2018. “How Conscious Are You of Others? Further Evidence on Relative Income and Happiness,” ISER Discussion Paper 1022, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.

Happiness, Work, and Identity

Abstract: This chapter introduces identity utility to the study of (un)employment and (un)happiness. The concept is described in terms of an augmented utility function, the implications of which are assessed in light of the empirical literature on unemployment and well-being. Studies on unemployed persons’ affective and cognitive well-being allow assessing the importance of the loss of identity utility relative to other nonmonetary consequences of joblessness, such as fewer social contacts and a lack of a structure in daily life. Unlike life satisfaction, unemployment leaves affective well-being mostly unaffected, which points to a major relevance of the loss of identity. This view is corroborated further by studies on the importance of the social norms to work and be self-reliant for the life satisfaction of the unemployed, as well as by studies showing the positive life satisfaction effect of retirement on unemployed workers. Based on this strong evidence for identity utility losses of unemployed persons, the notion of identity utility is used to explain heterogeneity in the effect of unemployment on life satisfaction. It is also linked to further consequences of unemployment, such as social exclusion and stigmatization. Moreover, this chapter uses identity utility to assess the likely effectiveness of labor market policies in alleviating the misery of the unemployed. Finally, research on work, happiness and identity is reconciled with a more standard economics view on labor supply based on studies examining the impact of working hours on workers’ well-being.

Hetschko, Clemens, Knabe, Andreas and Schöb, Ronnie, (2021), Happiness, Work, and Identity, No 783, GLO Discussion Paper Series, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

Life Satisfaction, Pro-Activity, and Employment

Abstract: Using longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), this paper investigates how pro-active time-use (e.g., in sports/arts/socializing) relates to subjective well-being of the unemployed and their probability of finding a new job. Allowing for a variety of socio-demographic and -economic observed characteristics, we find that pro-activity is negatively associated with the well-being loss upon unemployment. That is, the negative unemployment shock on their well-being is mitigated through various stress-reducing activities including, in particular, art participation, socializing, going on trips, and visiting a church. We also find that the probability of returning to the labor market later is positively associated with proactivity during the unemployment period. The results are robust to various checks including estimators, measures, and individual personality characteristics which can correlate with time-use activities.

Akay, Alpaslan, Karabulut, Gokhan and Yilmaz, Levent, (2021), Life Satisfaction, Pro-Activity, and Employment, No 14117, IZA Discussion Papers, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

An Economic Analysis of the Empty Nest Syndrome: What the Leaving Child Does Matters

Abstract: This study is an empirical investigation of the empty nest syndrome, commonly understood as a situation where there are feelings of loss or loneliness for mothers and/or fathers following the departure of the last child from the family home. This investigation makes use of rich, longitudinal, nationally representative German data to assess whether there is evidence for such a syndrome. Furthermore, the analysis considers the role of two key economic variables: consumption and leisure via the standard economic concept of utility maximisation. The analysis highlights a conflict between what economic theory predicts – more disposable income and a gain of leisure time – and the psychological (and cultural) notion of the lonely, sad empty nester. This conflict is an empirical question and here it is resolved via an assessment of the change in life satisfaction that is reported when parents become empty nesters. Importantly, this investigation also tracks what the last child leaving the household goes on to do: The found reduced life satisfaction seems to be wholly moderated if the last child leaves the nest for the purposes of education, but not if for purposes of employment.

Piper, Alan, (2021), An Economic Analysis of the Empty Nest Syndrome: What the Leaving Child Does Matters, No 1119, SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

Long-run contact with immigrant groups, prejudice, and altruism

Abstract: Hostility towards ethnic groups deemed ‘non-native’ has risen sharply in many countries over the last decade, in concert with a wave of far-right populism predicated on opposition to minorities and immigrants. This column examines the idea that greater intergroup contact can mitigate prejudice and increase altruism. Using a case study of Arab-Muslims in the US, it finds that long-term contact makes a majority group less prejudiced, less politically hostile, more altruistic toward minority communities, and even influences the political preferences of voters.

Leonardo Bursztyn, Thomas Chaney, Tarek Hassan, Aakaash Rao, “Long-run contact with immigrant groups, prejudice, and altruism”, VoxEU, 21 March 2021

Political Cleavages and the Representation of Social Inequalities in Japan, 1953-2017

Abstract: In this paper, Amory Gethin exploits political attitudes surveys conducted between 1953 and 2017 to document the evolution of political cleavages in Japan. He analyzes the transformation of Japan’s one-party dominant system from the hegemony of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the disintegration of conservative forces into multiple splinter parties. Throughout Japan’s contemporary history, persisting divides based upon foreign policy and remilitarization have remained a key axis of democratic conflicts, manifested by lower support for conservatives among higher-educated voters. The strength of the LDP in postwar decades relied on a unique coalition of poorer rural areas and business elites, while socialist and communist parties found greater support among urban unionized wage earners. Urbanization, declining rural-urban inequalities, the expansion of education, and the subsequent fragmentation of the party system have put an end to this equilibrium and have been associated with a remarkable “depolarization” of Japan’s political space.

Amory Gethin, “Political Cleavages and the Representation of Social Inequalities in Japan, 1953-2017”, WID.World, march 2021.

Is There a Happiness Premium for Working in the Public Sector? Evidence from Italy

Abstract: Is there a happiness premium for working in the public sector? We explore this question using a large sample of Italian employees from 2004 to 2016. We find that happiness increases with economic status. Public employees enjoy a happiness premium compared to private employees, but only if they are of low economic status. Depending on the definition of economic status, their happiness gain is able to compensate half or all the gap these individuals face with respect to private employees of medium economic status. Our findings add to the relatively scant empirical literature on psychological well-being and public employment.

Bucciol, Alessandro and Burro, Giovanni, (2021), Is There a Happiness Premium for Working in the Public Sector? Evidence from Italy, No 05/2021, Working Papers, University of Verona, Department of Economics.