Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 167–192 | Cite as

Social Security and Well-Being of the Unemployed in 42 Nations

Abstract

It is generally believed that life is better in nations with a high level of social security. Yet earlier studies have found no difference in average health and happiness between nations that differ in state welfare effort. While these previous studies focused on general population averages, the subjects of this study are the unemployed. As the unemployed are likely to benefit most from a high level of social security, one would expect the unemployed to be happier in nations with a generous social security system than in nations where the government is less open handed.

Data for 1990 are available for 42 nations. Social security is indicated as the expenditures in percentage of GDP. Well-being is measured by self-reports of health, overall happiness, life satisfaction, and mood.

Again hardly any relation was found between well-being and social security expenditures: on three of the four well-being indicators the unemployed in welfare states reported about the same levels of well-being as the unemployed in non-welfare states. When the analysis is restricted to 23 first world nations, the outcome is about the same. Comparison over time reveals that in typical welfare states changes in social security expenditures are related to changes in well-being levels of the unemployed, but such a pattern is not so obvious in nations with less generous state welfare. It is concluded that in general the level of social security has hardly any beneficial (or detrimental) effect on the well-being of the unemployed. Possible explanations for this outcome are explored.

happiness health welfare state cross-national 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Bartley, M.: 1988, ‘Unemployment and health: selection or causation – a false antithesis?', Sociology of Health and Illness 10(1), pp. 41–67.Google Scholar
  2. Bradburn, N.M.: 1969, The Structure of PsychologicalWell-Being (Aldine Publ. Co., Chicago, USA).Google Scholar
  3. Clark, A.E.: 1998, ‘The positive externalities of higher unemployment: evidence from household data', Research Paper (CNRS and LEO-CRESEP, Universit´e d'Orl´eans, France).Google Scholar
  4. Clark, A.E. and A.J. Oswald: 1994, ‘Unhappiness and unemployment', Economic Journal 104, pp. 648–659.Google Scholar
  5. Diener, E. and C. Diener: 1995, ‘The wealth of nations revisited: income and quality of life', Social Indicators Research 36, pp. 275–286.Google Scholar
  6. di Tella, R.: 1997, ‘The macroeconomics of happiness', Discussion Paper Seminar Nr. 19, (Institute of Economics, University of Oxford, UK).Google Scholar
  7. Elchardus, M., et al.: 1996, ‘Voorspelbaar ongeluk’ (Predictable unhappiness: consequences of unemployment), (VUB Press, Brussels, Belgium).Google Scholar
  8. Esping-Andersen, G.: 1990, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Polity Press, Cambridge, UK).Google Scholar
  9. Estes, R.J.: 1984, The Social Progress of Nations (Praeger, New York, USA).Google Scholar
  10. Gerlach, K. and G. Stefan: 1996, ‘A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany', Economic Letters 52, pp. 325–330.Google Scholar
  11. Heady, B. and A. Wearing: 1992, Understanding Happiness – a Theory of Subjective Well-Being (Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, Australia).Google Scholar
  12. International Labour Office: 1996, Cost of Social Security (ILO, Geneva, Switzerland).Google Scholar
  13. Mishra, R.: 1984, The Welfare State in Crisis (Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, UK).Google Scholar
  14. Murray, C.: 1988, In Pursuit of Happiness (Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, New York, USA).Google Scholar
  15. Ouweneel, P.: 1989, ‘Welke staat is het meest verzorgingsstaat?’ (Which state has the highest welfare level?), RISBO-paper S05 (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands).Google Scholar
  16. Ouweneel, P. and R. Veenhoven: 1995, ‘Livability of the welfare state', Social Indicators Research, 36, pp. 1–48.Google Scholar
  17. Radcliff, B.: 2000, ‘Politics, markets, and life satisfaction: the political economy of human happiness in the industrial democracies', Research paper (Dep. of Government, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA).Google Scholar
  18. van Maarseveen, H.Th.J.F.: 1990, ‘De Verzekeringsstaat’ (The Insurance State), NJB 1.Google Scholar
  19. Veenhoven, R.: 1984, Conditions of Happiness (Reidel, Boston, USA).Google Scholar
  20. Veenhoven, R.: 1989, ‘National wealth and individual happiness', in K.G. Grünert and F. x00D6;lander (eds.), Understanding Economic Behaviour (Kluwer, Boston, USA) pp. 9–32.Google Scholar
  21. Veenhoven, R.: 2000a, ‘Well-being in the welfare state', Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 2, pp. 91–125.Google Scholar
  22. Veenhoven, R.: 2000b, ‘The four qualities of life', Journal of Happiness Studies 1(1), pp. 1–39.Google Scholar
  23. Winkelmann, L. and R. Winkelmann: 1995, ‘Unemployment: where does it hurt?', Discussion Paper Nr. 1093 (CEPR, London, UK).Google Scholar
  24. World Value Survey3: 1994, 1981–84 and 1990–93 (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus University Rotterdam, POB 1738RotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations