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National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

In: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being

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  • Alan B. Krueger
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • David Schkade
  • Norbert Schwarz
  • Arthur A. Stone

Abstract

This monograph proposes a new approach for measuring features of society’s subjective well-being, based on time allocation and affective experience. We call this approach National Time Accounting (NTA). National Time Accounting is a set of methods for measuring, comparing and analyzing how people spend and experience their time -- across countries, over historical time, or between groups of people within a country at a given time. The approach is based on evaluated time use, or the flow of emotional experience during daily activities. After reviewing evidence on the validity of subjective well-being measures, we present and evaluate diary-based survey techniques designed to measure individuals’ emotional experiences and time use. We illustrate NTA with: (1) a new cross-sectional survey on time use and emotional experience for a representative sample of 4,000 Americans; (2) historical data on the amount of time devoted to various activities in the United States since 1965; and (3) a comparison of time use and well-being in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the U-index, a measure of the percentage of time that people spend in an unpleasant state, defined as an instance in which the most intense emotion is a negative one. The U-index helps to overcome some of the limitations of interpersonal comparisons of subjective well-being. National Time Accounting strikes us as a fertile area for future research because of advances in subjective measurement and because time use data are now regularly collected in many countries.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Alan B. Krueger, 2009. "Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krue08-1, octubre-d.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 5053.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:5053

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    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Diener, Ed & Georgellis, Yannis & Lucas, Richard E., 2006. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 2526, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    4. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
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    8. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    9. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas Mueller, 2008. "The Lot of the Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," Working Papers 1062, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    10. James G. March, 1978. "Bounded Rationality, Ambiguity, and the Engineering of Choice," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 587-608, Autumn.
    11. Pollak, Robert A & Wachter, Michael L, 1975. "The Relevance of the Household Production Function and Its Implications for the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 255-77, April.
    12. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," Working Papers 64, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    13. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    15. Robert W. Fogel, 1999. "Catching Up with the Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 1-21, March.
    16. Marie Connolly, 2013. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: The Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 457-473, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2009. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0030, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    2. Marie Connolly, 2013. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: The Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 457-473, April.
    3. Marc Fleurbaey, 2009. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1029-75, December.
    4. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "The Rug Rat Race," NBER Working Papers 15284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Blanchflower, David G., 2008. "International Evidence on Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 3354, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Ho, Lok Sang, 2011. "Hong Kong's happiness indices: What they tell us about LIFE?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 564-572.
    7. Steven J. Atlas & Jonathan Skinner, 2010. "Education and the Prevalence of Pain," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 145-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Christopher Christodoulou & Stefan Schneider & Arthur Stone, 2014. "Validation of a Brief Yesterday Measure of Hedonic Well-Being and Daily Activities: Comparison with the Day Reconstruction Method," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 907-917, February.
    9. Benjamin Volland, 2012. "The vertical transmission of time use choices," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    10. Haiou Zhou, 2012. "A New Framework of Happiness Survey and Evaluation of National Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 491-507, September.
    11. Richard Zeckhauser & W. Viscusi, 2008. "Discounting dilemmas: Editors’ introduction," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 95-106, December.
    12. Layard, Richard, 2008. "Introduction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1773-1776, August.
    13. D.P. Doessel & Ruth F.G. Williams, 2012. "The New Welfare Measures," Working Papers 2012.07, School of Economics, La Trobe University.

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