Happiness and its Cost

HILDA Survey User Virtual Colloquium

The increasing cost of happiness in Australia 2001-2019

Summary: A fundamental question for society is how much happiness does a dollar buy? The accepted view among economists and psychologists is that money and happiness increase together up to a point, after which there is little further gain from increasing income.  In this paper we estimate the relationship between income and subjective wellbeing over a 19-year period focusing on whether this change point has shifted over time, and explore its implications for inequalities in wellbeing.

Presenter: Dr Richard Morris (University of Sydney)

Richard Morris (PhD Psychology) has been collaborating with a small group of psychiatrists, economists, and statisticians to understand how mental health and subjective wellbeing has been changing in Australia in the new millennium. His prior work has shown that subjective wellbeing does not always change as expected after major life events, and more generally, our models of mental health in various settings (e.g., in the workplace, or to determine insurance premiums) are often inadequate. As governments and policymakers turn to different wellbeing measures as an alternative measure of prosperity, it becomes critical to understand how such measures change over time and react to other instruments.

Heterogeneity in the subjective wellbeing impact of access to green space

Summary: There is a growing body of literature on the impact of urban green space (UGS) on residents' subjective wellbeing (SWB). However, current studies on the UGS association with SWB are not operational and specific enough to guide urban planning decisions. Drawing on individual data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey over 2001-17 in Melbourne,  this paper estimates a set of hedonic models of SWB to explain the heterogeneity in SWB impacts of UGS.

Presenter: Ms Farahnaz Sharifi (Swinburne University of Technology)

Farah Sharifi’s experience as an urban planner is the foundation of her research in urban spatial analytics with a focus on quantifying urban amenities accessibility and assessing their impact on social issues. She is particularly interested in understanding the spatial distribution of urban amenities; their transition; and their effect on residents’ wellbeing.

Loss aversion, permanent income and subjective wellbeing

Summary: This presentation offers a unique insight into our understanding of the relationship between loss aversion and subjective wellbeing on a large sample of individuals taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The research aims to establish whether income losses have a larger impact on an individual’s life satisfaction (and financial satisfaction) than an equivalent income gain.  Where previous studies of this kind generally take an approach to reference-dependence that may not fully encapsulate an individual’s expectations, this research uses the household’s permanent income as a reference point, which is operationalised through various moving averages. Additionally, it considers an alternative reference point based on a Mincer-type earnings equation for the household.

Presenter: Mr Adam Rowe (The University of Sheffield)

Adam Rowe graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2017 with a BSc in Economics with Employment Experience, where he spent a year working for the UK Government Economic Service in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He then went on to obtain an MSc in Economics and Health Economics, also from the University of Sheffield, funded by the National Institute for Health Research. After being awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, Adam completed an MA in Social Research and is currently in the 2nd year of his PhD programme where his thesis explores the contextual evidence of loss aversion on wellbeing for different reference points, different types of loss and individual characteristics.