Advertising as a Major Source of Human Dissatisfaction: Cross-National Evidence on One Million Europeans

26 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2019 Last revised: 25 Feb 2019

See all articles by Chloe Michel

Chloe Michel

University of Zurich, Students

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Eugenio Proto

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

Michelle Sovinsky

University of Mannheim

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

Advertising is ubiquitous in modern life. Yet might it be harmful to the happiness of nations? This paper blends longitudinal data on advertising with large-scale surveys on citizens' well-being. The analysis uses information on approximately 1 million randomly sampled European citizens across 27 nations over 3 decades. We show that increases in national advertising expenditure are followed by significant declines in levels of life satisfaction. This finding is robust to adjustments for a range of potential confounders -- including the personal and economic characteristics of individuals, country fixed-effects, year dummies, and business-cycle influences. Further research remains desirable. Nevertheless, our empirical results are some of the first to be consistent with the hypothesis that, perhaps by fostering unending desires, high levels of advertising may depress societal well-being.

Suggested Citation

Michel, Chloe and Oswald, Andrew J. and Proto, Eugenio and Sovinsky, Michelle, Advertising as a Major Source of Human Dissatisfaction: Cross-National Evidence on One Million Europeans (February 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13532. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3336791

Chloe Michel (Contact Author)

University of Zurich, Students ( email )

Zurich
Switzerland

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
523510 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Eugenio Proto

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Michelle Sovinsky

University of Mannheim

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