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Author: Reisinger, James
Resulting in 2 citations.
1. Reisinger, James
Social Spillovers in Beliefs, Preferences, and Well-Being
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Public Policy, Harvard University, 2022
Cohort(s): NLSY97
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Depression (see also CESD); Happiness (see Positive Affect/Optimism); Neighborhood Effects; Social Environment; Well-Being

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

The papers in this dissertation empirically estimate the causal effect of our social environment on our beliefs, preferences, and well-being. I present clear evidence that our decisions are not made in isolation. Rather, our very beliefs and preferences are shaped by our neighbors. Even our happiness may depend on the circumstances of those around us. The first paper reports evidence that neighbors with strong preferences or beliefs around politics, religion, or race are likely to shape our beliefs and preferences. In fact, the migration of individuals with strong preferences appears to be a key determinant of geographic patterns in political outcomes in contemporary America. The second paper shows how social context shapes reports of psychological well-being commonly used in important longitudinal surveys. Individuals understate the symptoms of depression and overstate their happiness when reporting directly to another individual. The final papers tests the relative income hypothesis showing that we are less happy when our neighbors become relatively richer. However, we find no evidence that individuals are averse to increases in income inequality.
Bibliography Citation
Reisinger, James. Social Spillovers in Beliefs, Preferences, and Well-Being. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Public Policy, Harvard University, 2022.
2. Reisinger, James
Subjective Well-being and Social Desirability
Journal of Public Economics 214 (October 2022): 104745.
Cohort(s): NLSY79, NLSY79 Young Adult, NLSY97
Publisher: Elsevier
Keyword(s): Depression (see also CESD); Research Methodology; Well-Being

Survey measures of depression are increasingly used by economics researchers to provide a nuanced account of well-being. I show that levels of depression reported using such measures are significantly understated and levels of happiness significantly overstated in survey interviews conducted using a response mode that does not allow for anonymous reporting compared to a mode that does in three longitudinal surveys widely used in economics research. I exploit randomized assignment to survey mode, as well as panel methods, to show that this reflects the causal effect of survey mode, not selection. The difference in reported depression and happiness between modes is comparable to the difference between individuals in the 25th and 75th income percentiles. This finding suggests perceptions of social desirability may substantially bias measures of subjective well-being.
Bibliography Citation
Reisinger, James. "Subjective Well-being and Social Desirability." Journal of Public Economics 214 (October 2022): 104745.