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Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well-Being

Justin Wolfers ()

International Finance, 2003, vol. 6, issue 1, 1-26

Abstract: This paper analyses the effects of business cycle volatility on measures of subjective well-being, including self-reported happiness and life satisfaction. I find robust evidence that high inflation and, to a greater extent, unemployment lower perceived well-being. Greater macroeconomic volatility also undermines well-being. These effects are moderate but important: eliminating unemployment volatility would raise well-being by an amount roughly equal to that from lowering the average level of unemployment by a quarter of a percentage point. The effects of inflation volatility on well-being are less easy to detect and are likely smaller. Copyright 2003 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Date: 2003
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