سیاست های اقتصادی و سطح خود ادراک رفاه: مقایسه بین المللی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|24427||2006||18 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||8132 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 35, Issue 2, April 2006, Pages 308–325
The focus of macroeconomic inquiry has traditionally been on studying economic growth. The success or failure of any government initiated expenditure, revenue, or regulatory policy is commonly judged by the rate of the ensuing economic growth. This study focuses on whether economic variables that figure prominently in current policy discussions, such as economic growth and economic freedom, are related to the self-reported levels of well-being of individuals. The econometric analysis attempts to uncover those economic factors that appear to be the most highly correlated with a country's success or failure in promoting its citizens’ well-being. The cross-country sample includes 68 countries of diverse characteristics and uses averaged data for the 1990s
There are few things more precious to people in life than happiness and well-being. The 1776 Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen U.S. Colonies famously noted that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Soviet constitution of 1977 is no different in stressing the desire to create a society where “[…] the well-being of the people is constantly rising, and more and more favorable conditions are being provided for the all-round development of the individual.” The new European Union constitution signed in the Fall 2004 also notes that “The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.” That happiness and well-being are so prominently displayed in the founding documents of such a diverse set of societies is a reflection of their universal importance to people. The focus of macroeconomic inquiry has traditionally been on studying factors behind the gross domestic product, i.e., societies’ ability to produce and consume more goods and services. What has made this approach very attractive to modern economists in particular is its amenability to measurement, whereas happiness is harder to pin down. As evidence of economic growth's importance in the current mainstream thinking in modern societies, we can observe that governments very rarely omit higher economic growth as one of the main targets of public policies. Indeed, the success or failure of any government initiated expenditure, revenue, or regulatory policy is commonly judged by the rate of the ensuing economic growth. Nonetheless, using income to measure the success of public policies is problematic. Very few people would concur with the statement that what makes them content with life is solely a function of the consumption of goods and services, or saving. Indeed, particularly in wealthy countries, changes in income may represent only a small fraction of overall happiness. Good personal relationships, economic and political freedom, health, education, income distribution, and many other factors may be equally important or more important, yet their value is not explicitly measured by the market place. That the marketplace and capitalism in general are deficient in fulfilling people's needs is an age-old argument. For instance, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels argued that the materialistic desires of the dominant class – the bourgeoisie – were changing the whole nature of society towards an untenable state.1 The important question is which are the factors that affect people's well-being? How important are the economic factors in people's happiness and life satisfaction? Such questions are not only important for individuals but also crucial ones for policy makers to assess the efficacy of public policy. Researchers have striven to come up with the measurement for well-being. Interestingly, even if economic growth figures prominently in current policy discussions, in the past 30 years there has been no lack of proposals for alternative measures of well-being, and for new ways to evaluate the effectiveness of public policies. Nordhaus and Tobin (1972), Estes (1988) and Daly and Cobb (1989) are examples of calls for broader approaches in measuring the success of government policies. The most commonly used of the alternative quality of life measures, the human development index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Program already has data going back 30 years. However, HDI is comprised of only three characteristics of society – life expectancy, educational attainment and GNP per capita – and does not reflect well-being comprehensively. Alternatively, researchers have recently taken advantage of increasing availability of survey data of self-perceived well-being. The data has been made available recently over longer time periods and across more countries. This study utilizes this most updated and comprehensive survey data of well-being to find important determinants of well-being. More specifically, the paper explores how standard economic variables, such as income, economic growth, unemployment, inflation, foreign trading and institutional quality, are related to the self-perceived level of well-being (SWB), i.e., “happiness,” of individuals in a multi-country context. Compared to previous studies on happiness, this study includes more countries, focuses extensively on economic variables, and uses a more sophisticated measure of institutional quality. Compared to previous studies, the paper increases the number of countries considered by about 30. It is hoped that the more comprehensive international comparison provides a better picture of people's well-being in relation to various economic and non-economic factors. As the samples in the individuals-based study inevitably have less variation in institutional and economic characteristics, the broad cross-country-based study may illuminate the features that are likely to be missed in narrower micro-data studies. The data also provides two different measures of well-being: happiness and life satisfaction. As a second extension from the previous studies, these two measures are treated separately. This is because – even though happiness and life satisfaction are often used interchangeably in common language – it has been argued that they may have different meanings for individuals, and across cultures. Third, a more sophisticated measure of institutional quality is used here compared to previous studies, namely, we use the economic freedom index that has become the standard in the other fields of study. The index consists of categories that cover the levels of personal choice, voluntary exchange, competition, and protection of person and property, among other things.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper studied how macroeconomic variables are related to the self-reported levels of well-being of individuals. In particular, the econometric analysis attempted to uncover those economic variables that appear to be the most highly correlated with a country's success or failure in promoting its citizens’ well-being. The studied variables included economic growth, absolute income, the income of neighboring countries, inflation, unemployment, level of foreign trading, and economic freedom. The cross-country sample included 68 countries of diverse characteristics. To account for the cyclical variation in variables, an average for the 1990s was used in all regressions. The paper extends the previous studies by utilizing the most updated and comprehensive cross-country data enabling one to increase the number of countries considerably and to conduct comprehensive international comparison. This allows the study to capture the effects of the institutional characteristics and economic freedom between countries that the individual-based micro-studies are unable to capture. This paper also utilized two different measures of well-being: happiness and life satisfaction, and used a more sophisticated measure of institutional quality than the one used in previous studies. Notably, of the economic variables only a few turned out statistically significant, and even fewer economically significant. Overall, two variables stood out in the econometric analysis: Economic freedom, and of the socio-demographic variables, health (as measured by life expectancy). Even a moderate increase in these variables had a discernible effect on the reported well-being of people. For instance, an 8 month increase in life expectancy, or equivalently, a 0.21 point (4%) increase in the freedom index, were associated with a rise of the life satisfaction score from 6.63 to 6.68. For the same effect on life satisfaction, approximately $3000 in extra income, a full 30% increase from the sample average, would have been required, or nearly a tripling of the average annual GDP per capita growth rates. Of the other economic variables, neighbors’ income, inflation, unemployment and trade levels all turned out to be economically insignificant in explaining SWB. The results suggest that the attention that economic freedom has received lately in academia as well as the media is well-deserved, since it seems to be closely related to people's self-reported level of well-being. The findings also call into question the currently dominant role of economic growth and income in public policy discussions. Even though they both clearly matter, the regression results of the paper suggest that alternative economic variables, notably economic freedom, are more effective in raising the average well-being of populations. However, this fact has yet to come through in current public policy discussions. Furthermore, the neighboring countries’ income was never significant in any regressions. This, coupled with the relative unimportance of all other income measures suggests that politicians may actually have more leverage than sometimes thought in steering national policies more towards non-income goals. What's more, the results held for both measures of well-being – happiness and life satisfaction. Keeping in mind that the study of SWB is still in its relative infancy in economics, the latest studies on well-being add a new and valuable source of information for policymakers in redefining public policies. When the study of SWB progresses further, well-being research – as further argued in Kahneman et al. (2004) – has the potential to point the way to an additional and measurable policy objective, the SWB, and guide policymakers in ways how to reach it.