Unhappiness after Hurricane Katrina
33 Pages Posted: 9 May 2006 Last revised: 18 Jun 2021
Date Written: March 2006
In August, September and October of 2005, the Monthly Surveys of Consumers fielded by the University of Michigan included questions about the happiness of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The date of each interview is known. Looking at the data week by week, reported happiness dipped significantly in the first week of September, after the seriousness of the damage done by Katrina became clear. The impulse response of happiness is especially strong in the South Central region, closest to the devastation of Katrina. The dip in happiness lasted two or three weeks in the South Central region; in the rest of the country, reported happiness returned to normal after one or two weeks. In addition to the reaction to Katrina, happiness dipped significantly after the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. These results illustrate the potential of high-frequency happiness data to yield information about preferences over regional, national and international conditions by indicating the magnitude of the good or bad news conveyed by events.
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