Beijing Transportation Research Center
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 2015||Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being|
with Michael L. Anderson, Fangwen Lu, Yiran Zhang, Ping Qin: w21551
Congestion plays a central role in urban and transportation economics. Existing estimates of congestion costs rely on stated or revealed preferences studies. We explore a complementary measure of congestion costs based on self-reported happiness. Exploiting quasi-random variation in daily congestion in Beijing that arises because of superstitions about the number four, we estimate a strong effect of daily congestion on self-reported happiness. When benchmarking this effect against the relationship between income and self-reported happiness we compute implied congestion costs that are several times larger than conventional estimates. Several factors, including the value of reliability and externalities on non-travelers, can reconcile our alternative estimates with the existing literature.
Published: Michael L. Anderson & Fangwen Lu & Yiran Zhang & Jun Yang & Ping Qin, 2016. "Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Public Economics, . citation courtesy of