Unemployment & Happiness

Why do unemployed people feel that miserable?

Ronny Schöb is a professor in international economy at Freie Universität Berlin with the focus on the correlation between happiness and labour economics. Schöb’s aim is to develop labour market policies to reduce unemployment and to combine this with the happiness of the society and happiness of each individual. Therefore, it is important to identify the sorrow of unemployed people. Which factors determine the unemployed person´s miserable situation?
The research professor Andrew Clark at Paris School of Economics conducted a study that examined how unemployed people perceive regional unemployment. The result surprised the scientists. The higher the regional unemployment, the happier the unemployed people. The result contradicts the view of the economists who supposed the opposite: the higher the regional unemployment, the lower the happiness should be. A high unemployment rate reduces the possibility to find a new job. Although the prospect of finding a new job in regions with high unemployment is normally worse, unemployed people there are happier.
At that, Schöb carried out a study to discover the reasons of the unexpected findings. In the first part, unemployed as well as employed people shortly presented their previous day and answered a question on how happy they felt during the day. In a second part, they were asked about their life satisfaction. The result exhibited that unemployed people are able to enjoy their day as much as employed people. That means their psychical well-being is analogues. On the other hand, the scientists discovered a very low life satisfaction in the umemployed group. Here, the outcome differs clearly.

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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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