Unemployment & Happiness

Screening of an economic theory

When the alarm goes off at half past six in the morning, few people will jump out of their bed joyfully. Two more hours sleep would be simply awesome. This is, however, not possible as one has to work. Coming back home after a day full of work, people are tired though satisfied. One might have done a good job and got nice feedback from their boss. While drinking a cup of good coffee with a favourite colleague, one might have also exchanged the latest gossip. This is how most people might experience their daily life. However, what about people who do not have a job? Worldwide unemployment has grown since the finance crisis. Politics and economics discuss unemployment statistics and the effects on the national economy. What about the individual unemployed person? How happy are they?
To lose one’s job is one of the worst experiences. Empirical studies show that people’s subjective well-being falls dramatically when losing their job. According to the economic theory, people suffer under unemployment due to the loss of income. That means, however, after financial compensation the unemployed people are supposed to be as happy as before. Additionally, the unemployed people have more leisure time. Theoretically, one should be happier and more satisfied when unemployed than with a job. Happiness research proves that theory and practice do not coincide. Studies on life satisfaction and happiness reveal that unemployed people, even if financially fully compensated, seem to be unhappier than employed people.

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  • Prof. Dr. Andrew Oswald Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Prof. Dr. Ronnie Schöb Professor for International Public Economics, Free University Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Emeritus Professor Social Conditions of Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Carmelo Vazquez President of the International Positive Psychology association
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl Folkwang University Essen
  • Dr. Martijn Burger Academic Director Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation
  • Dr. Adam Okulicz Kozaryn Researcher Rutgers University
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