Climate change, income and happiness: An empirical study for Barcelona

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Abstract

The present article builds upon the results of an empirical study exploring key factors which determine life satisfaction in Barcelona. Based on a sample of 840 individuals we first look at the way changes in income, notably income reductions, associated with the current economic situation in Spain, affect subjective well-being. Income decreases which occur with respect to one year ago have a negative effect on happiness when specified in logarithmic terms, and a positive one when specified as a dummy variable (and percentage change). The divergence in results is discussed and various explanations are put forward. Both effects are however temporary and do not hold for a period longer than a year, probably for reasons of adaptation and a downward adjustment of reference consumption and income levels. Next, we examine the implications of experiencing forest fires and find a lasting negative effect on life satisfaction. Our results suggest that climate policy need not reduce happiness in the long run, even when it reduces income and carbon-intensive consumption. Climate policy may even raise life well-being, if accompanied by compensatory measures that decrease formal working hours and reference consumption standards, while maintaining employment security. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1475
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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