Recent Articles

Read more about our latest published articles.

Review’s Archive

Mduduzi Biyase, University of Johannesburg, School of Economics, South Africa

Liza-Mari Volschenk, University of Johannesburg, School of Economics, South Africa
Sheila De Carvalho, University of Johannesburg, School of Economics, South Africa

Occupation Status-Subjective Well-being Nexus: A Quantile Regression Analysis

(pp. )
JEL classification: L22; M13
Keywords: NIDS; Occupation; Quantile Regression; REOP; SWB


We investigate the relationship between occupation status and subjective well-being (SWB) in South Africa, an issue that has received almost no attention in this field, with data from the 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017 waves of the National income Dynamics Study (NIDS). While the results based on the random effect ordered probit (REOP) suggest a positive relationship between occupation and SWB, the quantile regression estimates reveal a differential influence of occupation for individuals at different levels of the conditional SWB distribution. Specifically, the quantile regression reveals that while occupation status enters with an expected positive sign, its significant effect is mostly located in the lower to slightly upper part of the SWB distribution (Q25 and Q75). Thus, while our finding clearly supports the positive effect of occupation reported in the existing literature, the distributional influence is more nuanced, implying that the estimates derived from the standard estimators (such as REOP model) might underestimate this effect of occupation at these quantiles at the Q25. The effect of occupation on SWB is robust to the inclusion of interaction terms, such as the interactive effect between race and SWB.

Read the full article

Download the article in PDF format to read and print.


Andrews, F.M. and S.B. Whitey (2012), Social Indicators of Well-Being: Americans’ Perceptions of Life Quality, Springer Science and Business Media.

Arogundade, S., M. Biyase and J.H. Eita (2021), “Foreign Direct Investment and Inclusive Human Development in Sub-Saharan African Countries: Domestic Conditions Matter”, Economia Internazionale/International Economics, 74(4), 463-498.

Bencsik, P. and T. Chuluun (2021), “Comparative well-being of the self-employed and paid employees in the USA”, Small Business Economics, 56(1), 355-384, <>.

Bian, Y. and Y. Xiao (2014), “A Comparative Analysis of Subjective Well-Being in China and Britain”, Sociological Studies, 2, 22-42.

Bijou, S.W., R.F. Peterson and M.H. Ault (1968), “A Method to Integrate Descriptive and Experimental Field Studies at the Level of Data and Empirical Concepts”, Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 1(2), 175-191.

Binder, M. and A. Coad (2011), “From Average Joe’s Happiness to Miserable Jane and Cheerful John: Using Quantile Regressions to Analyse the Full Subjective Well-Being Distribution”, Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organisation, 79(3), 275-290, <>.

Biyase, M., J.H. Eita, T. Udimal and T. Zwane (2022), “Military Spending and Inequality in South Africa: An ARDL Bound Testing Approach to Cointegration”, Economia Internazionale/International Economics, 75(2), 241-268.

Biyase, M., B. Fisher and M. Pretorius (2020), “Remittances and Subjective Well-Being: A Static and Dynamic Panel Approach to Single-Item and Multi-Item Measures of Happiness”, EDWRG Working Paper 04-2020, Economic Development & Well-Being Research Group.

Blanchflower, D.G. and A.J. Oswald (2004), “Wellbeing over Time in Britain and the USA”, Journal of Public Economics, 88(7-8), 1359-1386, <https://doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(02)00168-8>.

Botha, F. and F. Booysen (2013), “The Relationship between Marital Status and Life Satisfaction among South African Adults”, Acta Academica, 45(2), 150-178. 

Camfield, L., M. Guillen-Royo and J. Velazco (2010), “Does Needs Satisfaction Matter for Psychological and Subjective Wellbeing in Developing Countries: A Mixed-Methods Illustration from Bangladesh and Thailand”, Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(4), 497-516, <>.

Clark, A.E. and A.J. Oswald (1994), “Unhappiness and Unemployment”, The Economic Journal, 104(424), 648-659 <>.

Compton, W.C. and E. Hoffman (2019), Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Flourishing, Sage Publications.

Cramm, J. and A. Nieboer (2012), “Differences in the Association of Subjective Wellbeing Measures with Health, Socioeconomic Status, and Social Conditions among Residents of an Eastern Cape Township”, International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(1), 54-67, <>.

Creswell, J.W. (2019), Research design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 3rd edn., Sage Publication: California.

Davis, L. and S. Wu (2014), “Social Comparisons and Life Satisfaction across Racial and Ethnic Groups: The Effects of Status, Information and Solidarity”, Social Indicators Research, 117(3), 849-869, <>.

Diener, E. (1984), “Subjective Well-Being”, Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 342-575.

Di Tella, R., J. Haisken-De New and R. MacCulloch (2010), “Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 76(3), 834-852, <>.

Easterlin, R.A. (1974), Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. Nations & Households in Economic Growth, Essays in Honor of Moses Abramovitz, 89-125, <>.

Easterlin, R.A. (2005), “Diminishing marginal utility of income? Caveat emptor. Social Indicators Research70(3), 243-255.

Fagley, N.S. and Adler, M.G. (2012), “Appreciation: A spiritual Path to Finding Value and Meaning in the Workplace”, Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 9(2), 167-187, <>.

Fang, Z. and Y. Niimi (2017), “Does Everyone Exibit Loss Aversion? Evidence from a Panel Quantile Regression Analysis of Subjective Well-Being in Japan”, Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 46, 79-90, <>.

Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2005), “Income and Well-Being: An Empirical Analysis of the Comparison Income Effect”, Journal of Public Economics, 89(5-6), 997-1019, <>.

Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. and P. Frijters (2004), “How Important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?”, The Economic Journal, 114(497), 641-659, <>.

Filiz, Z. (2014), “An Analysis of the Levels of Job Satisfaction and Life Satisfaction of the Academic Staff”, Social Indicators Research, 116(3), 793-808, <>.

Frey, B.S. and A. Stutzer (2003), “Testing theories of happiness”, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics University of Zurich, IEER Working Paper no. 147, <>.

Fritsch, M. A. Sorgner and M. Wyrwich (2018), “Self-Employment and Well-Being across Institutional Contexts”, Jena Economic Research Papers No. 2018-005, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena.

He, J.C., S.K. Kang and K. Tse and S.M. Toh (2019), “Steoreotypes at Work: Occupational Stereotypes Predict Race and Gender Segregation in the Workforce”, Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 115, 1-17,  <>.

Headey, B. and M. Wooden (2004), “The Effects of Wealth and Income on Subjective WellBeing and IllBeing”, IZA Discussion Papers No. 1032, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn.

Helliwell, J.F. and R.D. Putnam (2004), “The Social Context of Well-Being”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1435-1446, <https://doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1522>. 

Hessels, J., E. Arampatzi, P. van der Zwan and M. Burger (2018), Life Satisfaction and Self-Employment in Different Types of Occupations”, Applied Economics Letters, 25(11), 734-740, <>.

Hsiao, C. (2005), “Why Panel Data?”, The Singapore Economic Review, 50(2), 143-154, <>.

Katsaiti, M.S. (2012), “Obesity and Happiness”, SOE Papers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research No. 270, Deutsches Intitut Fur Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW), Berlin. 

Knight, J. and R. Gunatilaka (2010), “The Rural-Urban Divide in China: Income but not Happiness?”, The Journal of Development Studies, 46(3), 506-534, <>.

Kingdon, G.G. and J. Knight (2007), “Community, Comparisons and Subjective Well-Being in a Divided Society”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 64(1), 69-90.

Koenker, R. and G. Bassett Jr. (1978), “Regression Quantiles”, Econometrica, 46(1), 33-50. 

Lee, H., I. Vlaev, D. King, E. Mayer, A. Darzi and P. Dolan (2013), “Subjective Well-Being and the Measurement of Quality in Healthcare”, Social Science and Medicine, 99, 27-34, <>.

Loewe, N., M. Bagherzadeh, L. Araya-Castillo,  C. Thieme  and J.M. Batista-Foguet (2014), “Life Domain Satisfactions as Predictors of Overall Life Satisfaction among Workers: Evidence from Chile”, Social Indicators Research, 118(1), 71-86, <>.

Long, J.S. and J. Freese (2006), Regression Models for Categorical Dependent Variables using Stata (Vol.7), Stata Press: Texas.

Luttmer, E.F. (2005), “Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(3), 963-1002 <>.

McBride, M. (2001), “Relative-Income Effects on Subjective Well-Being in the Cross-Section”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 45(3), 251-278, <>.

Mookerjee, R. and Beron, K. (2005), “Gender, Religion and Happiness”, The Journal of Socio-Economics, 34(5), 674-685, <>.

Mosikari, T.J., J.H. Eita and T.C. Nthebe (2019), “Does Corruption Hamper Inward FDI in South Africa from other African Countries? A Gravity Model Analysis”, Economia Internazionale/International Economics, 72(4), 513-532.

NIDS (2008-2017), Wave 1- 5 panel dataset, National Income Dynamics Study, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit [producer], 2016. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2016. Pretoria: Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation.

Phiri, A. (2019), “The Feldstein-Horioka Puzzle and the Global Financial Crisis: Evidence from South Africa using Asymmetric Cointegration Analysis”, Economia Internazionale/International Economics, 72(2), 139-170.

Posel, D.R. and D.M. Casale (2011), “Relative Standing and Subjective Well-Being in South Africa: The Role of Perceptions, Expectations and Income Mobility”, Social Indicators Research, 104(2), 195-223, <>.

Smith J. and M.M. Baltes (1998), “The Role of Gender in Very Old Age: Profiles of Functioning and Everyday Life Patterns”, Psychology and Aging, 13(4),  676-695, <>.

Stutzer, A. (2007), “Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness”, IZA Discussion Paper No. 2925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn.

Sulemana, I. (2015), “The Effect of Fear of Crime and Crime Victimization on Subjective Wellbeing in Africa”, Social Indicators Research, 121(3), 849-872, <https://doi:10.1007/s11205-014-0660-4>.

Suppa, N. (2021), “Unemployment and Subjective Well-Being”, GLO Discussion Paper No. 760, Global Labor Organization (GLO), Essen.

Tuch, S.A. and Martin, J.K. (1991), “Race in the Workplace: Black/White Differences in the Sources of Job Satisfaction”, The Sociology Quarterly, 32(1), 103-116, <>

van der Zwan, P., J. Hessels and C.A. Rietveld (2018), “Self-Employment and Satisfaction with Life, Work, and Leisure”, Journal of Economic Psychology, 64, 73-88, <>.

Veenhoven, R. (2010), “Capability and Happiness: Conceptual Difference and Reality Links”,  The Journal of Socio-Economics, 39(3), 344-350, <>.

Warr, P. (2018), “Self-Employment, Personal Values, and Varieties of Happiness–Unhappiness”, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 23(3), 388-401, <>.

Winkelmann, L. and R. Winkelmann, (1998), “Why are the Unemployed so Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data”, Economica 65(257), 1-15, <>.

Witter, R.A., M.A. Okun, W.A. Stock and M.J. Haring (1984), “Education and Subjective Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis”, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 6(2), 165-173, <>.

Register your account

First-time users should click on “Register your account” and enter the requested information. Upon successful registration, you will receive an e-mail with instructions to verify your registration.

Submission Guidelines

Authors’ login

Use the assigned user ID and password to login. Please, do not register again. Usernames and passwords may be changed after.

Quick search by author:
Back to the top

Institute for International Economics
of the Genoa Chamber of Commerce

Istituto di Economia Internazionale
Camera di Commercio di Genova
Via Garibaldi, 4 (III piano) - 16124 Genova (Italy)