If you want to be happy, look for a state has a lower unemployment rate. That’s according to a new study co-authored by Pavlo Buryi of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in PA. The study—Impact of Unemployment on Happiness in the United States–considers the level of demonstrated happiness and unhappiness. The study is co-authored by Sediq Sameem of the Department of Accounting and Finance at Alabama A&M University. In the study, the researchers measured unhappiness by the conditional probability of committing suicide within groups that are facing a higher unemployment rate and those that are not. Using individual-level US data from 1989 to 2004, their findings indicate that individuals have lower rates of suicide or are ‘happy’ when they live in a state that has lower unemployment rate.
Evaluating happiness and unhappiness in terms of likelihood of committing suicide, the present work suggests that living in a state of the US that has higher unemployment rate reduces the happiness of the individuals, and actually increases the probability of committing suicide. These findings, the researchers note, have important policy implications. Recessionary periods are destructive not only to the financial well-being of the individuals but also to their happiness. Although the researchers cannot make inferences about causation, the fact that higher unemployment and demonstrated happiness are inversely related could be useful if individual happiness, rather than economic outcomes, is the focus of public policies.
The study appears in the October 2018 issue of Applied Economic Letters, a scholarly journal. You can download the study at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13504851.2018.1529390 Puryi is assistant professor of economics at Harrisburg University. Sameem is assistant professor of economics at Alabama A&M University.