Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being
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.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Project No. CA-B-AEC-7785-H. Any errors in the paper are the authors’. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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