Does Watching TV Make Us Happy?

IEW Working Paper No. 241

43 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2005  

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Christine Benesch

University of St. Gallen; CREMA

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2005

Abstract

The paper studies a major human activity - that of watching TV - where many individuals have incomplete control over, and foresight into, their own behavior. As a consequence, they watch more TV than they consider optimal for themselves and their well-being is lower than what could be achieved. Mainly people with significant opportunity costs of time regret the amount of time spent watching TV. They report lower subjective well-being when watching TV for many hours. For others, there is no negative effect on life satisfaction from watching TV. Long hours spent in front of a TV are linked to higher material aspirations and anxiety and therewith lower life satisfaction.

Keywords: Life satisfaction, mispredicting utility, revealed behavior, self-control problem, TV consumption

JEL Classification: D12, I31

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Benesch, Christine and Stutzer, Alois, Does Watching TV Make Us Happy? (May 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=774684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.774684

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
Switzerland
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002
Switzerland

Christine Benesch

University of St. Gallen ( email )

St. Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.siaw.unisg.ch/

CREMA ( email )

Gellertstrasse 18
Basel
Zurich, CH 8006
Switzerland

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
4002 Basel
Switzerland
0041 61 267 3361 (Phone)
0041 61 267 3340 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wwz.unibas.ch/stutzer/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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