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Does Education Affect Happiness? Evidence for Spain

Abstract

In this paper we study the impact of education on happiness in Spain using individual-level data from the European Social Survey, by means of estimating Ordinal Logit Models. We find both direct and indirect effects of education on happiness. First, we find an indirect effect of education on happiness through income and labour status. That is, we find that people with a higher education level have higher income levels and a higher probability of being employed, and thus, report higher levels of happiness. Second, and after controlling by income, labour status and other socio-economic variables, we find that education has a positive (and direct) impact on happiness. We interpret this result as evidence of a “self-confidence” or “self-estimation” effect from acquiring knowledge. Finally, we find that the direct impact of education on happiness does not depend of the level of education (primary, secondary or tertiary).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See, for example, the recent conference of Bernanke (2010), the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System of the US, which presents a survey on happiness and economics.

  2. 2.

    Recent surveys on the relationship between economics and happiness are Frey and Stutzer (2002a, b), Easterlin (2005), Clark et al. (2006), Di Tella and MacCulloch (2006), Helliwell (2006), Bruni and Porta (2007), Layard (2006), Blanchflower (2008) and Graham (2008) among others.

  3. 3.

    The ESS is a biennial multi-country survey covering over 30 nations. The first round was fielded in 2002/2003. Some papers that also used the ESS are Benesch et al. (2006), Biancotti and D`Alessio (2007), Frey et al. (2007), Caporale et al. (2009), Sironi and Mencarini (2009) and recently, Cunado and Perez de Gracia (2010) among others.

  4. 4.

    See, for example, Maddala (1983) for a detail description of the Ordered Logit Model.

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Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support provided by the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (ECO2008-02458-E) within the EUROCORES HumVIB programme of the European Science Foundation. We specially thank conference participants at the XIX Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (Zaragoza 2010) for insightful comments and suggestions. We thank the editor and one anonymous referee for useful comments and valuable suggestions on this paper.

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Correspondence to Fernando Pérez de Gracia.

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Cuñado, J., de Gracia, F.P. Does Education Affect Happiness? Evidence for Spain. Soc Indic Res 108, 185–196 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-011-9874-x

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Keywords

  • Education
  • Happiness
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-estimation
  • European social survey