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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Friebel, Guido / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Tsui, Kevin / Wichardt, Philipp / Zulehner, Christine

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An Empirical Study of Happiness in Italy

Vincenzo Scoppa1 / Michela Ponzo2

1Università della Calabria,

2Università della Calabria,

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 8, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.1965, June 2008

Publication History

Published Online:


This study analyzes the determinants of individual subjective well-being (happiness) in Italy by estimating microeconometric happiness equations in order to examine the effects of socio-demographic characteristics and economic conditions on subjective evaluations of happiness. Consistent with the findings in other advanced countries we find that income and wealth increase happiness and that unemployment is extremely bad for subjective well-being. In addition, we obtain some novel and interesting results for Italy including the following: income obtained by public transfers has a limited impact on subjective well-being; education increases happiness, even when controlling for income; Southern residents and individuals living in large cities are less happy; and social capital makes people happier. Finally, individuals care about relative income, in the sense that their happiness is negatively influenced by the income of others in their group of reference. Our results show that several non-economic variables are extremely important for subjective well-being.

Keywords: happiness; subjective well-being; unemployment; relative income; social capital; effects of welfare programs

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