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Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices

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  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • Ori Heffetz
  • Miles S. Kimball
  • Alex Rees-Jones

Abstract

We survey 561 students from U.S. medical schools shortly after they submit choice rankings over residencies to the National Resident Matching Program. We elicit (a) these choice rankings, (b) anticipated subjective well-being (SWB) rankings, and (c) expected features of the residencies (such as prestige). We find substantial differences between choice and anticipated-SWB rankings in the implied tradeoffs between residency features. In our data, evaluative SWB measures (life satisfaction and Cantril’s ladder) imply tradeoffs closer to choice than does affective happiness (even time-integrated), and as close as do multi-measure SWB indices. We discuss implications for using SWB data in applied work.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18927.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18927

Note: AG LS PE
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  1. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
  3. 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.
  4. Bernard M.S. van Praag & B.E. Baarsma, 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to value Intangibles; the Case of Airport Noise," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. 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.
  6. Paul Dolan & Robert Metcalfe, 2008. "Comparing Willingness-to-Pay and Subjective Well-Being in the Context of Non-Market Goods," CEP Discussion Papers dp0890, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Beggs, S. & Cardell, S. & Hausman, J., 1981. "Assessing the potential demand for electric cars," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, September.
  8. Bernard van den Berg & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2007. "Monetary valuation of informal care: the well-being valuation method," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(11), pages 1227-1244.
  9. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2012. "Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference," NBER Working Papers 18374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Luechinger, Simon & Raschky, Paul A., 2009. "Valuing flood disasters using the life satisfaction approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 620-633, April.
  11. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2012. "What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2083-2110, August.
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