Andrew J. Oswald

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This paper is an attempt to test the hypothesis that utility depends on income relative to a 'comparison' or reference level. Using data on 5,000 British workers, it provides two findings. First, workers' reported satisfaction levels are shown to be inversely related to their comparison wage rates. Second, holding income constant, satisfaction levels are(More)
We study the effect of the level of inequality in society on individual well being using a total of 123,668 answers to a survey question about “happiness”. We find that individuals have a lower tendency to report themselves happy when inequality is high, even after controlling for individual income, a large set of personal characteristics, and year and(More)
Modern macroeconomics textbooks rest upon the assumption of a social welfare function defined on inflation, π, and unemployment, U. 2 However, no formal evidence for the existence of such a function has been presented in the literature. 3 Although an optimal policy rule cannot be chosen unless the parameters of the presumed W(π, U) function are known, that(More)
Institutional factors in the form of direct democracy (via initiatives and referenda) and federal structure (local autonomy) systematically and sizeably raise self-reported individual well-being in a cross-regional econometric analysis. This positive effect can be attributed to political outcomes closer to voters' preferences, as well as to the procedural(More)
We present evidence that psychological well-being is U-shaped through life. A difficulty with research on this issue is that there are likely to be omitted cohort effects (earlier generations may have been born in, say, particularly good or bad times). First, using data on 500,000 randomly sampled Americans and West Europeans, the paper designs a test that(More)
We show that macroeconomic movements have strong effects on the happiness of nations. First, we find that there are clear microeconomic patterns in the psychological well-being levels of a quarter of a million randomly sampled Europeans and Americans from the 1970's to the 1990's. Happiness equations are monotonically increasing in income, and have a(More)
One of the famous questions in social science is whether money makes people happy. We offer new evidence by using longitudinal data on a random sample of Britons who receive medium-sized lottery wins of between 1000 pounds and 120,000 pounds (that is, up to approximately US$ 200,000). When compared to two control groups -- one with no wins and the other(More)
The paper suggests a new test for rent-sharing in the U.S. labor market. Using an unbalanced panel from the manufacturing sector, it shows that a rise in a sector's profitability leads after some years to an increase in the long-run level of wages in that sector. The paper controls for workers' characteristics, for industry fixed-effects, and for unionism.(More)
The opinions in the paper are ours alone and do not represent the views of the International Labour Organization (who originally commissioned the study) or other bodies. For helpful comments, we thank Summary The paper studies the labour markets of Eastern Europe. It uses new data on 60,000 randomly sampled workers in the transition economies. To allow a(More)