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Life Satisfaction

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Author Info

  • Kapteyn, Arie

    ()
    (University of Southern California)

  • Smith, James P.

    ()
    (RAND)

  • van Soest, Arthur

    ()
    (Tilburg University)

Abstract

We analyze the determinants of global life satisfaction in two countries (The Netherlands and the U.S.), by using both self-reports and responses to a battery of vignette questions. We find global life satisfaction of happiness is well-described by four domains: job or daily activities, social contacts and family, health, and income. Among the four domains, social contacts and family have the highest impact on global life satisfaction, followed by job and daily activities and health. Income has the lowest impact. As in other work, we find that American response styles differ from the Dutch in that Americans are more likely to use the extremes of the scale (either very satisfied or very dissatisfied) than the Dutch, who are more inclined to stay in the middle of the scale. Although for both Americans and the Dutch, income is the least important determinant of global life satisfaction, it is more important in the U.S. than in The Netherlands. Indeed life satisfaction varies substantially more with income in the U.S. than in The Netherlands.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4015.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: E. Diener, J.E. Helliwell and D. Kahneman (eds.), International Differences in Well-Being, Oxford University Press, 2010, 70-104
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4015

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Keywords: vignettes; life satisfaction; happiness; reporting bias;

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References

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  1. van Soest, Arthur & Delaney, Liam & Harmon, Colm P. & Kapteyn, Arie & Smith, James P., 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," IZA Discussion Papers 2860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  3. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 6944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  5. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2011. "Are Americans Really Less Happy With Their Incomes?," Working Papers 858, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  7. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Working Papers 206, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  8. Stadt, H. van de & Geer, S.A. van de & Kapteyn, A.J., 1985. "The relativity of utility: Evidence from panel data," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-364325, Tilburg University.
  9. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
  11. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  12. Rafael Di Tella & John Haisken-De New & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel," NBER Working Papers 13159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Kapteyn, Smith and VanSoest - Life Satisfaction
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-08-03 21:29:00
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Cited by:
  1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Bernard M.S. Van Praag & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2011. "Vignette Equivalence and Response Consistency; The Case of Job Satisfaction," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-167/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Viola Angelini, Danilo Cavapozzi, Luca Corazzini, Omar Paccagnella., 2008. "Do Danes and Italians Rate Life Satisfaction in the Same Way? Using Vignettes to Correct for Individual-Specific Scale Biases," ISLA Working Papers 31, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  3. Maarten van Rooij & Annamaria Lusardi & Rob Alessie, 2009. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning in the Netherlands," DNB Working Papers 231, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  4. repec:dgr:uvatin:2011167 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Denis Gerstorf & Nilam Ram & Jan Goebel & J├╝rgen Schupp & Ulman Lindenberger & Gert G. Wagner, 2010. "Where People Live and Die Makes a Difference: Individual and Geographic Disparities in Well-Being Progression at the End of Life," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 287, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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