Happiness Research Undermines European-Style Labor-Market Regulation

Bryan Caplan persuasively pans the book he is revieiwng. But along the way Caplan makes an intriguing observation of his own:

(p. A11) . . . , happiness research makes a powerful case against European-style labor-market regulation. For most economists, the effect on worker well-being is unclear. On the one hand, regulation boosts wages; on the other, it increases the probability that you will have no wages at all. From the standpoint of a happiness researcher, however, this is a no-brainer. A small increase in wages has but a small and ephemeral effect on happiness. A small increase in unemployment, by contrast, has a massive and–unlike most other factors–durable effect on happiness. Supposedly “humane” regulations to boost workers’ incomes have a dire cost in terms of human happiness.

For the full review, see:
BRYAN CAPLAN. “BOOKSHELF; Lessons From Cloud Nine; Happiness predicts higher job performance and even future health. But what predicts happiness?” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., August 16, 2011): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

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