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Television, Health, and Happiness: A Natural Experiment in West Germany

Adrian Chadi and Manuel Hoffmann

No 1148, SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research from DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)

Abstract: Watching television is the most time-consuming human activity besides work but its role for individual well-being is unclear. Negative consequences portrayed in the literature raise the question whether this popular pastime constitutes an economic good or bad, and hence serves as a prime example of irrational behavior reducing individual health and happiness. Using rich panel data, we are the first to comprehensively address this question by exploiting a large-scale natural experiment in West Germany, where people in geographically restricted areas received commercial TV via terrestrial frequencies. Contrary to previous research, we find no health impact when TV consumption increases. For life satisfaction, we even find positive effects. Additional analyses support the notion that TV is not an economic bad and that non-experimental evidence seems to be driven by negative self-selection.

Keywords: Health; Happiness; Well-being; Natural experiment; Television consumption; Time-use; Entertainment; CSPT; ArcGIS; Mass media (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C26 D12 H12 I31 J22 L82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 75 p.
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-fle, nep-hap and nep-hea
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