CEP LSE RSS Contact Us YouTube Facebook Twitter

photo: Ferrer-i-Carbonnell Professor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
Professor of Economics, Institute for Economic Analysis (Barcelona)

Closing the border can do more harm than good to national wellbeing.

April 2017
Wellbeing of EU citizens increases on average with free movement within the EU.Response
Yes, free movement of people allow optimizing allocation of resources.Agree

The UK closing its borders for EU nationals who want to work in the UK after Brexit would harm both UK wellbeing and that of the rest of the EU.Response
Free movement of people increases not only the wellbeing of those who want to move to seek better opportunities, but in the mid and long term it also increases the average wellbeing of the receiving countries. Although with migration some might win and some might lose the total production in the receiving country increases. In addition, migration also enriches the culture of the receiving country. In the mid and long term, therefore, average wellbeing should increase. Agree

Wellbeing Effects of Anonymous Donation of Eggs and Sperm

February 2017
Donating gametes (eggs, sperm) via clinics as anonymous donors is one of the highest return-to-effort things individuals can do to increase overall wellbeing.Response
This is only true if we solely consider the unhappiness of unfertile or single parents and ignore children’s rights as well as the negative effects on the lifelong well-being of children. Disagree

The right of a child to know who their donor was when they turn 18 outweighs (in an overall wellbeing sense) the possibility that this right-to-know leads to a shortage of donors and reduces the number of donor-conceived children.Response
From a pure well-being perspective, we would need to weight the well-being loss of parents due to a possible shortage of donors against the increase of well-being of the children who could know their genetic background. The answer is uncertain. If we consider however that the right to know one’s genetic background should be a basic human right that we cannot infringe, the answer is clearly yes. Agree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
On one side, employees in more hierarchical organisations might have higher levels of wellbeing if they believe that hierarchy implies a larger probability of own job promotion. For example, Clark et al. (2009) find that workers (especially men) in Denmark are more satisfied if others’ wages within the firm are higher. Similarly, Levitt and Venkatesh (2000) argue that the tournament structure of the drug-selling street gangs explains why “foot soldiers” are willing to take a job with a low wage and a high risk of death. On the other side however happiness correlates with job status (DiTella and MacCulloch, 2010) and therefore hierarchical organizations might have smaller average satisfaction as opposed to flatter organizations. In addition, in hierarchical organizations workers typically have less autonomy, a variable determining job satisfaction. Taking these two effects into account, it could be interesting to see whether there is an optimal level of hierarchy or wage spread that maximizes individuals’ happiness. References: Clark, A., N. Kristensen, and N. Westergard-Nielsen, 2009. Job Satisfaction and Co-Worker Wages: Status or Signal? Economic Journal, 119; 430-447 Di Tella, R and R. MacCulloch, 2010. Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 76: 834-852 Levitt, D.D. and S.A. Venkatesh, 2000. An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115: 755-789.Neither agree nor disagree

Tilting the tax and subsidy mix in favour of more hierarchical organisations (in a revenue neutral manner) would probably improve the wellbeing of employees.Response
It depends on whether the positive effects overweight the negative ones (see answer to question 1). It remains thus an empirical question whether there is an optimal level of hierarchy or wage spread that maximizes individuals’ happiness. This optimal level might also depend on the country.Neither agree nor disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
Although on average happiness seems to be higher during festive days, as the Gallup surveys have consistently showed over the years, it is also true that evidence points to the fact that the Christmas period might also be stressful and unhappy. While in festive days such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and even Christmas day Americans are on average happier (Gallup), the whole Christmas period seems to be rather stressful. Michael Mutz (2015) empirically shows that, except for Christian individuals with a high degree of religiousness, the Christmas period is associated, at least in Europe, with lower life satisfaction than the rest of the year. The author however cannot distinguish between the festive period and the Christmas day itself. References: Gallup report: http://www.gallup.com/poll/180911/holidays-weekends-americans-happiest-days-year.aspx Michael Mutz (2015): http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11482-015-9441-8Neither agree nor disagree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
Current evidence in the US (Gallup surveys) indicates that the days with a larger percentage of happy individuals are on public holidays, although this is less so for those individuals who like their jobs. Mandatory holidays imply that individuals can enjoy leisure with other people, friends, and family. According to Alesina, Glaeser and Sacerdote (2005), people in countries with more mandatory vacations do seem to be happier, indicating that the returns to leisure increase with more people taking vacations on the same day. Although there could be a saturation point on leisure, it seems that we are not yet there. References: Gallup survey: http://www.gallup.com/poll/180911/holidays-weekends-americans-happiest-days-year.aspx Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11278Agree