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An Experimental Evaluation of Popular Well-Being Measures

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  • Martin Kroh
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    Abstract

    Drawing on data from two multitrait multimethod experiments carried out in the context of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), this paper identifies questionnaire designs that minimize measurement error in reports of subjective well-being. Among the survey instruments most often used to measure well-being, the analysis focuses on three response formats (11-point, 7-point and magnitude satisfaction scales) and three modes of data collection (self-administered paperand-pencil questionnaires (SAQ), personal paper-and-pencil interviews (PAPI) and computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI)). Results show that both the choice of a response format and the choice of a mode of data collection make a difference in terms of measurement error: The 11-point satisfaction scale and both CAPI and PAPI improve the quality of subjective well-being data. The paper also reports differences between response formats in terms of their ease of administration and illustrates that the choice of a survey instrument affects conclusions drawn from applied well-being research.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.43968.de/dp546.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 546.

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    Length: 28 p.
    Date of creation: 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp546

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    1. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
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    8. Martin Kroh, 2005. "Surveying the Left-Right Dimension: The Choice of a Response Format," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 491, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. James Steiger & Alexander Shapiro & Michael Browne, 1985. "On the multivariate asymptotic distribution of sequential Chi-square statistics," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 253-263, September.
    10. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2001. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262232197, December.
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    12. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
    13. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Paul Frijters, 1999. "The measurement of welfare and well-being; the Leyden approach," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 071a, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    14. Ulf Olsson, 1979. "Maximum likelihood estimation of the polychoric correlation coefficient," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 44(4), pages 443-460, December.
    15. M. Stones & A. Kozma, 1985. "Structural relationships among happiness scales: A second order factorial study," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 19-28, July.
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