Vancouver School of Economics
University of British Columbia
6000 Iona Drive
Vancouver, BC V6T 1L4
Institutional Affiliation: Vancouver School of Economics
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|May 2018||How Happy are Your Neighbours? Variation in Life Satisfaction among 1200 Canadian Neighbourhoods and Communities|
with John F. Helliwell, Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh: w24592
This paper presents a new public-use dataset for community-level life satisfaction in Canada, based on more than 400,000 observations from the Canadian Community Health Surveys and the General Social Surveys. The country is divided into 1215 similarly sampled geographic regions, using natural, built, and administrative boundaries. A cross-validation exercise suggests that our choice of minimum sampling thresholds approximately maximizes the predictive power of our estimates. Our procedure reveals robust differences in life satisfaction between and across urban and rural communities. We then match the life satisfaction data with a range of key census variables to explore ways in which lives differ in the most and least happy communities. The data presented here are useful on their own to st...
|August 2017||Social Capital and Prosocial Behaviour as Sources of Well-Being|
with John F. Helliwell, Lara B. Aknin, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang: w23761
This paper surveys evidence documenting positive linkages among social capital, prosocial behaviour, and subjective well-being. Whether in the workplace, at home, in the community, or among nations, better and deeper social connections, and especially higher levels of trust are linked to higher subjective well-being, even beyond the effects flowing through higher incomes and better health. Prosocial behaviour is also shown to be a robust predictor of well-being in both correlational and experimental contexts. These two lines of research are connected, as prosocial acts are most likely to increase well-being when they are delivered in ways that improve social capital, and reflect intentional generosity free of either compulsion or personal gain. We infer that these deep links between prosoc...
|September 2016||Migration as a Test of the Happiness Set Point Hypothesis: Evidence from Immigration to Canada|
with John F. Helliwell, Aneta Bonikowska: w22601
Strong versions of the set point hypothesis argue that subjective well-being measures reflect each individual’s own personality and that deviations from that set point will tend to be short-lived, rendering them poor measures of the quality of life. International migration provides an excellent test of this hypothesis, since life circumstances and average subjective well-being differ greatly among countries. Life satisfaction scores for immigrants to Canada from up to 100 source countries are compared to those in the countries where they were born. With or without various adjustments for selection effects, the average levels and distributions of life satisfaction scores among immigrants mimic those of other Canadians rather than those in their source countries and regions. This supports ...