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Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being

Michael Anderson (), Fangwen Lu, Yiran Zhang, Jun Yang and Ping Qin

No 21551, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Congestion plays a central role in urban and transportation economics. Existing estimates of congestion costs rely on stated or revealed preferences studies. We explore a complementary measure of congestion costs based on self-reported happiness. Exploiting quasi-random variation in daily congestion in Beijing that arises because of superstitions about the number four, we estimate a strong effect of daily congestion on self-reported happiness. When benchmarking this effect against the relationship between income and self-reported happiness we compute implied congestion costs that are several times larger than conventional estimates. Several factors, including the value of reliability and externalities on non-travelers, can reconcile our alternative estimates with the existing literature.

JEL-codes: R41 R48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap, nep-hpe, nep-tre and nep-ure
Note: DEV EEE PE
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Published as Michael L. Anderson & Fangwen Lu & Yiran Zhang & Jun Yang & Ping Qin, 2016. "Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Public Economics, .

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