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Economics, Health and Happiness

The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, HEIRS and SSPH+ jointly organize the conference Economics, Health and Happiness in Lugano, January 14-16, 2016. The deadline for submission is July 15, 2015. The conference is sponsored by the International Review of Economics. A special issue will be produced in due course.

The issue

Individual well-being is under pressure nowadays as people are becoming increasingly exposed to many sources of stress. Changes in socio-demographic (i.e. population aging) and epidemiological trends (with the increase in chronic diseases), and changes in labor force participation patterns (especially for women), affect family and inter-personal relationships. In addition to this, the retrenchment of the welfare state and the recent economic recession have contributed to reducing the resources available to families and individuals. The existing literature on health and happiness has generally shown the complexity of the etiological model underlying both trends. As well as ordinary economic goods, social and relational factors are also crucial in determining an individual’s well-being. Genetic predisposition and genetically shaped features (such as personality traits) may also account for individual differences in health and happiness. Several individual and contextual factors affect both happiness and health, and it would be interesting to examine the similarities/differences in the relationships between these determinants and health/happiness. The conference aims to stimulate and expand research on the determinants of health and happiness, and to foster the comprehension of how the effects of these determinants are heterogeneous across social groups.

The topics

Relevant topics for submitting papers are the following:

1. The causality relationship between health and happiness
Studies concerning the determinants of subjective wellbeing, conducted in several countries and based on different datasets and methods, have all shown that health is one of the strongest predictors of individual happiness. However, happiness and positive emotion-related attitudes also appear to have some effect on health and longevity. Causality seems to run in both directions. Issues of measurement, inverse causality and unobserved heterogeneity should be tackled.

2. Health and happiness in hardship
In times of economic crisis, a crucial question is whether and how the current economic downturn can affect individual health and happiness. Past findings are mixed, and suggest that an economic crisis may generate both threats and opportunities for individual health/happiness.

3. Interpersonal relationships and health/happiness
Interpersonal relationships are important determinants of individual health and happiness, although their positive effects cannot be taken for granted. A relationship can provide an individual with emotional and practical support, but it may be also a source of stress and conflicts. A special case is that of care-giving.

4. Disability, health shocks and happiness
According to a number of studies, individuals are able to adapt to disability to some extent, preserving their level of subjective well-being, although the human ability to adapt may depend on the kind/degree of disability/health shock. In some cases, or for some people, adaptation may not occur.

5. Lifestyle, health and happiness
Individual lifestyle is known to be significantly linked to mental and physical health status. Physical activity, diet (and IMC), smoking and alcohol consumption can all impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

6. Social inequalities and their impact on health and happiness
Overall, the relationship between individual socio-economic-status (SES) and individual well-being is well-established. However, the social gradient may vary depending on the context considered, and on the way in which SES is effectively measured (in terms of income, education, occupational status, social prestige). Other factors can also structure individual well-being (gender, ethnicity, etc.)

7. The workplace, health and individual well-being
An individual’s occupation may exert an autonomous effect on health and happiness via both material and psychosocial pathways. Recent labor market reforms and the economic crisis have both contributed to altering occupational conditions (in terms of working hours, type of contract, perceived insecurity, effort/reward balance, etc.). The well-being consequences of these changes have not yet been fully understood.

8. Happiness, health and genes
Although there is nothing deterministic in the relationship between genes and health/happiness, today it is known that genes cannot be overlooked when studying these phenomena. Several studies have found that up to 50% of inter-individual variations in subjective well-being can be accounted for by genetic differences. Genes may act on individual levels of happiness and health by shaping personality traits like neuroticism, extraversion, the propensity for risk-taking, etc.

Scientific Committee

Luca Crivelli, SUPSI and SSPH+, Switzerland
Mario Lucchini, SUPSI, Switzerland
Leonardo Becchetti, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
Luigino Bruni, LUMSA University and HEIRS, Italy
Andrew Clark, PSE, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, France
Carlo Francescutti, ASSn6 Friuli, Italy
Martin Knapp, London School of Economics, UK
Nino Künzli, Swiss TPH and SSPH+, Switzerland
Pierluigi Porta, University of Milan Bicocca and HEIRS, Italy
Carol Ryff, University of Wisconsin, USA
Christopher Whelan, University College Dublin, Ireland
Alessandra Smerilli, PFSE-Auxilium Rome, Italy
Organizing Committee
Luca Crivelli, SUPSI and SSPH+
Sara Della Bella, SUPSI
Mario Lucchini, SUPSI and University of Milan Bicocca
Fabrizio Mazzonna, Università della Svizzera italiana and SSPH+
Amalia Mirante, SUPSI and Università della Svizzera italiana
Tommaso Reggiani, University of Cologne and HEIRS
Massimiliano Vatiero, Università della Svizzera italiana

Keynote Speakers

Andrew Clark, Paris School of Economics, France
Carlo Francescutti, ASSn6 Friuli, Italy
Martin Knapp, London School of Economics, UK
Nicole Probst, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland
Carol Ryff, Institute of Aging, University of Wisconsin, USA
Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Christopher Whelan, School of Sociology, University College Dublin, Ireland

Invited, confirmation pending

Atul Gawande, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, USA
Ezekiel Jonathan Emanuel, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Deadlines and participation fee

- Proposals, from 100 to 300 words, must be sent by July 15, 2015 to the following email address: [email protected]
- Acceptance: September 15, 2015
- Final paper and registration: November 2, 2015
Registration fee (food and beverages included):
- Seniors: 300 euro
- Juniors: 150 euro
Conference venue:
Campus SUPSI Trevano, Lugano (Switzerland)

Website and contact

Website: www.supsi.ch/go/ehh2016

Email: [email protected]

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