Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being

30 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2015 Last revised: 22 May 2022

See all articles by Michael L. Anderson

Michael L. Anderson

U.C. Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Fangwen Lu

University of California, Berkeley

Yiran Zhang

Renmin University of China

Jun Yang

Beijing Transportation Research Center

Ping Qin

Renmin University of China

Date Written: September 2015

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Michael L. and Lu, Fangwen and Zhang, Yiran and Yang, Jun and Qin, Ping, Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being (September 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21551, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2660010

Michael L. Anderson (Contact Author)

U.C. Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

207 Giannini Hall, MC 3310
Berkeley, CA 94720-3310
United States

Fangwen Lu

University of California, Berkeley

Yiran Zhang

Renmin University of China ( email )

Room B906
Xianjin Building
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

Jun Yang

Beijing Transportation Research Center ( email )

338 Guanganmen Inner St
Xicheng
Beijing, 100053
China

Ping Qin

Renmin University of China ( email )

Room B906
Xianjin Building
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

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