The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures
AbstractEconomists are increasingly analyzing data on subjective well-being. Since 2000, 157 papers and numerous books have been published in the economics literature using data on life satisfaction or subjective well-being, according to a search of Econ Lit.1 Here we analyze the test-retest reliability of two measures of subjective well-being: a standard life satisfaction question and affective experience measures derived from the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Although economists have longstanding reservations about the feasibility of interpersonal comparisons of utility that we can only partially address here, another question concerns the reliability of such measurements for the same set of individuals over time. Overall life satisfaction should not change very much from week to week. Likewise, individuals who have similar routines from week to week should experience similar feelings over time. How persistent are individuals’ responses to subjective well-being questions? To anticipate our main findings, both measures of subjective well-being (life satisfaction and affective experience) display a serial correlation of about 0.60 when assessed two weeks apart, which is lower than the reliability ratios typically found for education, income and many other common micro economic variables (Bound, Brown, and Mathiowetz, 2001 and Angrist and Krueger, 1999), but high enough to support much of the research that has been undertaken on subjective well-being.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 64.
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- Krueger, Alan B. & Schkade, David A., 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," IZA Discussion Papers 2724, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," NBER Working Papers 13027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
- J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-05-12 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2007-05-12 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-LTV-2007-05-12 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 1999.
"The macroeconomics of happiness,"
ZEI Working Papers
B 03-1999, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
- 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.
- Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
- David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000.
"Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA,"
NBER Working Papers
7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Freeman, Richard B, 1978.
"Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 135-41, May.
- Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998.
"Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics,"
780, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
- M Patterson & P Warr & M West, 2004. "Organizational Climate and Company Productivity: the Role of Employee Affect and Employee Level," CEP Discussion Papers dp0626, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- 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.
- Sonja Lyubomirsky & Heidi Lepper, 1999. "A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 137-155, February.
- David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004.
"Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study,"
Scandinavian Journal of Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 393-415, October.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001.
"What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
503, CESifo Group Munich.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
- White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
- Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergaard-Nielsen, 2007. "Reliability of job satisfaction measures," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 273-292, June.
- Richard Kammann & Marcelle Farry & Peter Herbison, 1984. "The analysis and measurement of happiness as a sense of well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 91-115, August.
- Jonathan Gruber & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002.
"Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier?,"
NBER Working Papers
8872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michael Eid & Ed Diener, 2004. "Global Judgments of Subjective Well-Being: Situational Variability and Long-Term Stability," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 65(3), pages 245-277, February.
- 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.
- repec:pri:cepsud:77 is not listed on IDEAS
- John Yardley & Robert Rice, 1991. "The relationship between mood and subjective well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 101-111, February.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Long).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.