Economics, Health and Happiness
Lugano – January 14, 15, 16th 2016

Topics

Relevant topics for submitting papers are the following:

1. The causality relationship between health and happiness

Studies concerning the determinants of subjective well-being, conducted in several countries and based on different datasets and methods, have all shown that health is one of the strongest predictors of individual happiness. However, happiness and positive emotion-related attitudes also appear to have some effect on health and longevity. Causality seems to run in both directions. Issues of measurement, inverse causality and unobserved heterogeneity should be tackled.

2. Health and happiness in hardship

In times of economic crisis, a crucial question is whether and how the current economic downturn can affect individual health and happiness. Past findings are mixed, and suggest that an economic crisis may generate both threats and opportunities for individual health/happiness.

3. Interpersonal relationships and health/happiness

Interpersonal relationships are important determinants of individual health and happiness, although their positive effects cannot be taken for granted. A relationship can provide an individual with emotional and practical support, but it may be also a source of stress and conflicts. A special case is that of care-giving.

4. Disability, health shocks and happiness

According to a number of studies, individuals are able to adapt to disability to some extent, preserving their level of subjective well-being, although the human ability to adapt may depend on the kind/degree of disability/health shock. In some cases, or for some people, adaptation may not occur.

5. Lifestyle, health and happiness

Individual lifestyle is known to be significantly linked to mental and physical health status. Physical activity, diet (and IMC), smoking and alcohol consumption can all impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

6. Social inequalities and their impact on health and happiness

Overall, the relationship between individual socio-economic-status (SES) and individual well-being is well-established. However, the social gradient may vary depending on the context considered, and on the way in which SES is effectively measured (in terms of income, education, occupational status, social prestige). Other factors can also structure individual well-being (gender, ethnicity, etc.)

 7. The workplace, health and individual well-being

An individual’s occupation may exert an autonomous effect on health and happiness via both material and psychosocial pathways. Recent labor market reforms and the economic crisis have both contributed to altering occupational conditions (in terms of working hours, type of contract, perceived insecurity, effort/reward balance, etc.). The well-being consequences of these changes have not yet been fully understood.

8. Happiness, health and genes

Although there is nothing deterministic in the relationship between genes and health/happiness, today it is known that genes cannot be overlooked when studying these phenomena. Several studies have found that up to 50% of inter-individual variations in subjective well-being can be accounted for by genetic differences. Genes may act on individual levels of happiness and health by shaping personality traits like neuroticism, extraversion, the propensity for risk-taking, etc.

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