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photo: Stutzer Professor Alois Stutzer
Professor of Political Economics, University of Basel, Switzerland

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
... with those who move benefiting the most.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
The well educated British might loose from closing the borders because of higher prices for services produced on a less contested market for personal services. However, the less qualified British at the bottom of the income distribution might benefit (also in terms of employment opportunities) thereby gaining relatively more in terms of wellbeing.Neither agree nor disagree

Understanding the effect of policy on national wellbeing

March 2017
Despite dozens of years of research, we still know precious little about what policies increase national wellbeing.Response
There are many time-proven public policies that get broad support in the population because they contribute to favorable outcomes in society. The consequences of policies for the individual well-being of different groups at the margin (more or less of some publicly provided good, a looser or stricter regulation in some area, etc.), are the tricky part. Evidence based public policy is developing in a fruitful direction. Disagree

In order to find out what raises national wellbeing, we need to have thousands of randomised controlled trials in all major areas of national policy.Response
RCTs are a top-down approach to learn. There is a bottom-up approach to learn about favorable policies. This latter approach builds on the productive trial and error processes that are adopted when trying out policies in a decentralized political system.Disagree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
People working in hierarchical organizations experience less autonomy reducing procedural utility from work. This disamenity seems not fully compensated by higher outcome utility from income. These are the main results of a very nice study by Matthias Benz and Bruno S. Frey (Being Independent Is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy. Economica 75(298): 362-383). Disagree strongly

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
We lack to a large extent a good understanding about how organizational structures are related to people's subjective well-being, for example, in terms of their life satisfaction.Disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
High frequency well-being data for the US reflect lower levels of stress narrowly around Christmas. Agree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
Public holidays help to coordinate leisure time and leisure activities like social gatherings in social networks. However, public holidays have the tendency to degenerate to shopping sprees. Agree