Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing Using Millions of Digitized Books

48 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2016

See all articles by Thomas Hills

Thomas Hills

University of Warwick

Eugenio Proto

University of Glasgow; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Daniel Sgroi

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

We present the first attempt to construct a long-run historical measure of subjective wellbeing using language corpora from millions of digitized books for the USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. While existing measures go back at most to the 1970s, our measure goes back at least 200 years further. Our measure correlates positively with existing wellbeing measures where available. The relationship with life expectancy is significant and positive. Infant mortality correlates negatively and independently from the effect of life expectancy. There is no correlation with GDP. Econometric analysis of the data is undertaken to control for potentially confounding factors.

Keywords: historical subjective wellbeing, big data, Google Books, GDP, conflict, Easterlin paradox

JEL Classification: N300, N400, O100, D600

Suggested Citation

Hills, Thomas and Proto, Eugenio and Proto, Eugenio and Sgroi, Daniel, Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing Using Millions of Digitized Books (December 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2796492 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2796492

Thomas Hills

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Eugenio Proto (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow ( email )

University Avenue
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/eugenioproto-research/home

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Daniel Sgroi

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
124
Abstract Views
767
rank
244,529
PlumX Metrics