What Affects Happiness Inequality? Evidence from Japan
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This paper examines the determinants of happiness inequality in Japan using unique data from the “Preference Parameters Study” of Osaka University, a nationally representative survey conducted in Japan. By estimating Recentered Influence Function regressions, we find that household income has a negative and significant effect on happiness inequality, as found for other advanced economies, though people’s perception of their relative standing in the income spectrum also matters for the dispersion of happiness. Moreover, the regression results show that the insecurity faced by people about their jobs and life after retirement is also significantly associated with the widening of happiness inequality. Such findings are cause for grave concern given that the share of irregular jobs, which tend to be low paid and insecure, in total employment significantly increased in Japan during the Lost Two Decades and that this increasing trend has not yet been reversed.
KeywordsHappiness Inequality Japan Job security Subjective well-being
JEL ClassificationD63 H55 I31 I38
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