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Happiness, Lottery Winners, and Your Heart Andrew Oswald Warwick University

Happiness, Lottery Winners, and Your Heart Andrew Oswald Warwick University

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Happiness, Lottery Winners, and Your Heart Andrew Oswald Warwick University

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  1. Happiness, Lottery Winners, and Your HeartAndrew OswaldWarwick University * Much of this work is joint with coauthor Nick Powdthavee.I also owe a great debt to the work of David G Blanchflower, Andrew Clark, Paul Frijters, and Justin Wolfers.

  2. I would like to address 3 issues.

  3. #1

  4. #1 In the 21st century, should our society’s goal be happiness rather than GDP?

  5. #2

  6. #2 What actually happens to a person when they get a lot of money (say by winning the lottery)?

  7. #3

  8. #3 Could physiological measures, like heart rate and blood pressure, be used as proxies for well-being?

  9. So is modern society going in a good direction?

  10. So is modern society going in a good direction? Are we getting happier?

  11. The Easterlin Paradox

  12. Average Happiness and Real GDP per Capita for Repeated Cross-sections of Americans.

  13. Life-Satisfaction Levels in European Nations

  14. What kind of data do we use in research on well-being?

  15. The types of sources British Household Panel Study (BHPS) German Socioeconomic Panel Australian HILDA Panel General Social Survey of the USA Eurobarometer Surveys Labour Force Survey from the UK World Values Surveys NCDS 1958 cohort

  16. Various statistical methods

  17. Some cheery news:

  18. Some cheery news: In Western nations, most people seem happy with their lives

  19. The distribution of life-satisfaction levels among British people Source: BHPS, 1997-2003. N = 74,481

  20. But obviously life is a mixture of ups and downs

  21. Statistically, wellbeing in panels is strongly correlated with life events ..good and bad.

  22. Big effects Unemployment Divorce Marriage Bereavement Friendship networks Health [No effects from children]

  23. Happiness is also U-shaped over the life course

  24. The pattern of a typical person’s happiness through life

  25. This holds in various settings

  26. This holds in various settings For example, we see the same age pattern in mental health among a recent sample of 800,000 UK citizens: [Blanchflower and Oswald, Social Science & Medicine, 2008]

  27. The probability of depression by age Males, LFS data set 2004-2006 0.02 0.015 0.01 Regression coefficient 0.005 0 -0.005 -0.01 1938 1942 1946 1950 1954 1958 1962 1966 1970 1974 1978 1982 1986 1990 Year of birth

  28. Depression by age among females: LFS data 2004-2006Q2 0.002 0 -0.002 -0.004 Regression coefficient -0.006 -0.008 -0.01 -0.012 -0.014 1942 1946 1950 1954 1958 1962 1966 1970 1974 1978 1982 1986 1990 Year of birth

  29. Now what about money?

  30. Now what about money? The data show that richer people are happier and healthier.

  31. For example Di Tella et al REStats 2003 and Luttmer QJE 2005 show income is monotonic in happiness equations for 11 industrial countries.

  32. But is there really good causal evidence? One recent attempt (Gardner-Oswald, Journal of Health Economics 2007):

  33. Studying windfalls is one approach:- .

  34. So what happens to someone who gets a largish lottery win?

  35. Remarkably There is no immediate effect on well-being as measured by happiness or financial satisfaction.

  36. In our data Strikingly, even the person who receives the equivalent of 1 million US dollars reports a fall, in time t1, in financial satisfaction (ie. satisfaction with the household’s income).

  37. But, after three years, a large effect on satisfaction suddenly becomes apparent.

  38. Making sense of it all

  39. Lottery wins raise mental well-being

  40. But the puzzle remains

  41. But the puzzle remains There is a delay. The longitudinal lottery work finds the effect of a win takes one to two years to show up in mental well-being scores.

  42. Where will research head in the future?

  43. An interesting border is between happiness and medicine • Is it possible that we can find physiological correlates with human well-being? • Perhaps to broaden the standard policy goal of GDP?

  44. Some of our latest work: Statistical links between the heart and income and happiness.

  45. To clinicians High blood pressure is potentially a sign of mental strain and low well-being

  46. Some regression evidence

  47. Some regression evidence When we estimate a life-satisfaction equation LS = f (high blood pressure, control variables) Hypertension enters negatively in a 10,000 sample from NCDS cohort and a 15,000 sample from Eurobarometers

  48. But how about high blood pressure as a national measure of well-being?

  49. Across nations, hypertension and happiness are inversely correlated (Blanchflower and Oswald, forthcoming, Journal of Health Economics)

  50. Some of our latest work: