Is Man A Social Animal? Andrew E. Clark (Paris School of Economics and IZA) http://www.pse.ens.fr/clark/ CAGE Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy Modern Society and the Economics of Happiness Wednesday 5th October, 5.30pm – 7.00pm 40000 3 FIGURE 1: Happiness and Real Income Per Capita in the US, 1973-2004 2.5 Average Happiness 30000 2 20000 1.5 1 Happiness Real Income Per Capita 10000 0.5 0 0 1973 1977 1981 1985 1989 Year 1993 1998 2003 Real Income Per Capita (2000 US$) Dick Easterlin, in a paper written 40 years ago, underlined what looked to be a problem: growing GDP per capita did not go hand-in-hand with growing happiness. He not only set out the problem, he also proposed solutions, based on income comparisons. I compare my income to that of others. I compare my income now to what I used to receive in the past. In both cases, rising income for everyone will not lead to greater happiness (at least not in the long run). There has been a huge amount of work suggesting that this is true. There has been a huge amount of work suggesting that this is true. And I believe it. There has been a huge amount of work suggesting that this is true. And I believe it. Which begs the question: “If income doesn’t make us happier over time, then what does?” Quite a bit of my research over the past 10 years has been on this topic. Let me give you a brief flavour of some of it with respect to some of the big issues that we arguably face as a modern society. First: unemployment UK UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE BY 80,000 IN THE THREE MONTHS TO JULY THIS YEAR TO 2.51 MILLION, ACCORDING TO THE OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS (ONS). THAT IS IS THE LARGEST INCREASE IN NEARLY TWO YEARS. Is that bad? Yes it is! Unemployment is hugely important for individual well-being ECHP: Satisfaction Scale 1-6. 500 000 individuals. ECHP: Labour Force Status and Life Satisfaction 4.5 4 3.5 Life Satisfaction 3 2.5 2 Self-Employed Employed Unemployed Labour Force Status But do you adapt to it, and is it relative? NLF There are comparison effects with respect to unemployment Unemployment hurts less the more of it there is around (the psychological cost of unemployment is lower in high-unemployment regions) This effect is far stronger for men, especially prime-age men (16-50), than for women. Social Comparisons with respect to Unemployment? EA95 3 NW96 EM91 2 GHQDifference RS91 EA9 E2 M96 SW92 EM93WAY 9H 393 WM95 491 NW 95 RS95 SW S9 W SW 93 EA94 WA96 GL91 RS96 RS93 W Y9 H 7A9W RS 29 W 7A95WA 9M 191NW94 EA91 YH92 SC 9 2 NW97 RS94 SC9 N W 91 EM95YH96 S1 C 94 GL96 EA97 NT96 NT91 NW93 SC96 YH94 WM9 2 SC97 GL92 SW96 WM93 GL95 G L 9 7 EM97 M YE H 99 52 SW C9 N 93 2 A WM97 SE C 99 53 SW97 NT92 SW95 EM94 RS97 1 W N2 T97 YH9 1A9 GL93 GL94 0 EA96 WM96 WA94WM94 NT93 NT95 NT94 -1 5 10 Regional Unemployment Rate 15 The well-being gap between employees and the unemployed is smaller in regions with greater unemployment. Unemployment also hurts less when I share it with other household members. Consider a household with two adults who are active in the labour market (i.e. employed or unemployed). 1) Best situation (for my well-being): I work and my partner works (E-E) Unemployment also hurts less when I share it with other household members. Consider a household with two adults who are active in the labour market (i.e. employed or unemployed). 1) Best situation (for my well-being): I work and my partner works (E-E) 2) Less good: I work and my partner is unemployed (E-U) Unemployment also hurts less when I share it with other household members. Consider a household with two adults who are active in the labour market (i.e. employed or unemployed). 1) Best situation (for my well-being): I work and my partner works (E-E) 2) Less good: I work and my partner is unemployed (E-U) 3) And the worst? It’s not U-U, but rather U-E… It should however be underlined that these comparisons effects are arguably marginal. Comparisons might make unemployment a little less bad, but it remains bad even so. For most people, unemployment is a deeply depressing experience, and should continue to attract policy attention. There is equally only little adaptation to unemployment Unemployment starts bad, and stays bad Second subject: Marriage and Divorce It looks like we get used to marriage And we equally get used to divorce Actually, if anything divorce is a good idea, in that both sexes seem to end up happier after it (divorce is rational). This only applies to ending unhappy marriages: if you’re happily married, then stay put! And we can’t even count on our children There are also potential social comparisons in the effect of divorce: Is divorce easier to live with in a high-divorce area • For adults? • For the children? Third topic: Obesity Obesity: the UK is a top-ten country ADULT OBESE POPULATION Nauru 78.5% Tonga 56.0% Saudi Arabia 35.6% United Arab Emirates 33.7% United States 32.2% Bahrain 28.9% Kuwait 28.8% Seychelles 25.1% United Kingdom 24.2% DIABETES IN ADULTS Nauru 30.7% United Arab Emirates 19.5% Saudi Arabia 16.7% Bahrain 15.2% Kuwait 14.4% Oman 13.1% Tonga 12.9% Mauritius 11.1% Egypt 11.0% Greater BMI is associated with lower well-being, at least past some critical level We estimated this critical level to be around 23 for women, and 25 for men: very close to the WHOmandated “normal” BMI of 25. On average: • Own obesity reduces well-being • Partner’s obesity reduces well-being • But two partners who are both obese are just as happy as two partners who are not obese Last topic: Religion Unemployment starts bad, and stays bad Religion is less important for the younger Percentage of respondents within age category (%) 8.1. How important is religion in your daily life? 50 40 Importance level Very Somewhat Not very Not at all 30 20 10 0 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-97 Age category Total If the unemployed are happier living with other unemployed, and the employed are happier living with other employed…. Then the religious should be happier living in religious areas, and atheists should be happier living with other atheists. Right? Wrong. Recent work on European Social Survey Data shows that: 1) The religious are happier when they live in religious regions 2) But so are atheists The religious “spillovers” are then mostly positive. Everyone likes living with the religious.