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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. 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.
  2. Arthur Van Soest & Liam Delaney & Colm Harmon & Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith, 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," Working Papers 200714, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. van de Stadt, Huib & Kapteyn, Arie & van de Geer, Sara, 1985. "The Relativity of Utility: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(2), pages 179-87, May.
  4. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 615, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1938, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 3654, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2005. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Labor and Demography 0504006, EconWPA.
  8. 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.
  9. Kapteyn, A. & Smith, J.P. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2011. "Are Americans Really Less Happy With Their Incomes?," Discussion Paper 2011-059, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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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. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Angelini, V.; & Cavapozzi, D.; & Corazzini L.; & Paccagnell O.;, 2011. "Do Danes and Italians Rate Life Satisfaction in the Same Way? Using Vignettes to Correct for Individual-Specific Scale Biases," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 11/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  4. van Rooij, Maarten C.J. & Lusardi, Annamaria & Alessie, Rob J.M., 2011. "Financial literacy and retirement planning in the Netherlands," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 593-608, August.
  5. repec:dgr:uvatin:2011167 is not listed on IDEAS

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