New Publications

Is a Sorrow Shared a Sorrow Doubled? Parental Unemployment and the Life Satisfaction of Adolescent Children

28.11.2023 -

New working paper by Melanie Borah, Andreas Knabe, Christine Lücke

This paper examines possible spillover effects of parental unemployment on the subjective wellbeing of 12- to 21-year-old children. Using German panel data (SOEP), we show that unemployment of fathers and mothers is negatively associated with their children’s life satisfaction. When controlling for time-invariant individual heterogeneity, our results suggest that maternal unemployment has negative effects, while no effect of fathers’ unemployment can be detected. In subgroup analyses, we do not find differential impacts between sons and daughters or between younger and older children. Further results suggest that the impact of parental unemployment differs between high- and low-unemployment regions.


The working paper can be found here.

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Social Contacts, Unemployment, and Experienced Well-Being. Evidence from Time-Use Data

04.10.2022 -

New working paper by Andreas Knabe and An Hoang

We use the UK Time-Use Survey 2014/15 to analyze how differences in the frequency and intensity of social contacts contribute to the gap in experienced well-being between employed and unemployed persons. We observe that people generally enjoy being with others more than being alone. The unemployed generally feel worse than the employed when engaging in the same kind of activities, partly because they are more often alone. The unemployed can replace lost work contacts only partially with private contacts. In terms of experienced well-being, however, the small increase in time spent with family and friends (which people enjoy a lot) offsets the loss of work contacts (which people generally enjoy only little). Hence, we do not find that the differences in the social-contact composition between the employed and the unemployed contribute to the difference in their experienced well-being.


The working paper can be found here.


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Der Mindestlohn von 12 Euro kommt - die sozialpolitischen Risiken bleiben

16.12.2021 -

New publication by Andreas Knabe, Ronnie Schöb, and Marcel Thum: 


The publication can be found here.                                                    


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Happiness, Work, and Identity

08.03.2021 -

New publication by Clemens Hetschko, Andreas Knabe and Ronnie Schöb: 

This chapter introduces identity utility to the study of (un)employment and (un)happiness. The concept is described in terms of an augmented utility function, the implications of which are assessed in light of the empirical literature on unemployment and well-being. Studies on unemployed persons' affective and cognitive well-being allow assessing the importance of the loss of identity utility relative to other nonmonetary consequences of joblessness, such as fewer social contacts and a lack of a structure in daily life. Unlike life satisfaction, unemployment leaves affective well-being mostly unaffected, which points to a major relevance of the loss of identity. This view is corroborated further by studies on the importance of the social norms to work and be self-reliant for the life satisfaction of the unemployed, as well as by studies showing the positive life satisfaction effect of retirement on unemployed workers. Based on this strong evidence for identity utility losses of unemployed persons, the notion of identity utility is used to explain heterogeneity in the effect of unemployment on life satisfaction. It is also linked to further consequences of unemployment, such as social exclusion and stigmatization. Moreover, this chapter uses identity utility to assess the likely effectiveness of labor market policies in alleviating the misery of the unemployed. Finally, research on work, happiness and identity is reconciled with a more standard economics view on labor supply based on studies examining the impact of working hours on workers' well-being.

The publication can be found here.

Handbook Labor

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Parental time restrictions and the cost of children: insights from a survey among mothers (Borah, Knabe, Pahlke)

01.03.2021 -

New publication by Melanie Borah, Andreas Knabe and Kevin Pahlke:

An important aspect when analyzing economic inequality between households with children is time. At given monetary incomes, the material well-being of families may be very different depending on how much time parents have at their disposal. In this paper, we provide estimates of the subjectively perceived cost of children depending on the extent of parental time restrictions. Building on a study by Koulovatianos, Schröder and Schmidt (J. Bus. Econ. Stat. 27:42–51, 2009) that introduces a novel way of using subjective income evaluation data for such estimations, we conduct a refined version of the underlying survey, focusing on young women with children in Germany. Our study confirms that the perceived monetary cost of children is substantial and increases with parental nonmarket time restrictions. The experienced loss in material living standards associated with supplying time to the labor market is sizeable for families with children.

The publication can be found here.

Journal of Economic Inequality

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