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National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

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  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Daniel Kahneman

    (Princeton University)

  • David Schkade

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Norbert Schwarz

    (University of Michigan)

  • Arthur A. Stone

    (Stony Brook University)

Abstract

This monograph proposes a new approach for measuring features of society’s subjective well-being, based on time allocation and affective experience. We call this approach National Time Accounting (NTA). National Time Accounting is a set of methods for measuring, comparing and analyzing how people spend and experience their time -- across countries, over historical time, or between groups of people within a country at a given time. The approach is based on evaluated time use, or the flow of emotional experience during daily activities. After reviewing evidence on the validity of subjective well-being measures, we present and evaluate diary-based survey techniques designed to measure individuals’ emotional experiences and time use. We illustrate NTA with: (1) a new cross-sectional survey on time use and emotional experience for a representative sample of 4,000 Americans; (2) historical data on the amount of time devoted to various activities in the United States since 1965; and (3) a comparison of time use and wellbeing in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the Uindex, a measure of the percentage of time that people spend in an unpleasant state, defined as an instance in which the most intense emotion is a negative one. The U-index helps to overcome some of the limitations of interpersonal comparisons of subjective well-being. National Time Accounting strikes us as a fertile area for future research because of advances in subjective measurement and because time use data are now regularly collected in many countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 1061.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp0141687h46j

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  1. Krueger, Alan B. & Schkade, David A., 2008. "The reliability of subjective well-being measures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1833-1845, August.
  2. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
  3. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2007. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," CEP Discussion Papers dp0836, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Krueger, Alan B. & Mueller, Andreas I., 2008. "The Lot of the Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 3490, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  6. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," NBER Working Papers 12082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2009. "A Century of Work and Leisure," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 189-224, July.
  9. Pollak, Robert A & Wachter, Michael L, 1975. "The Relevance of the Household Production Function and Its Implications for the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 255-77, April.
  10. Ignace Glorieux, 1993. "Social interaction and the social meanings of action: A time budget approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 149-173, November.
  11. Robert W. Fogel, 1999. "Catching Up with the Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 1-21, March.
  12. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
  13. Gary Marks & Nicole Fleming, 1999. "Influences and Consequences of Well-being Among Australian Young People: 1980–1995," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 301-323, March.
  14. Marie Connolly Pray, 2011. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: the Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Cahiers de recherche 1116, CIRPEE.
  15. James G. March, 1978. "Bounded Rationality, Ambiguity, and the Engineering of Choice," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 587-608, Autumn.
  16. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  17. Ed Diener & Carol Nickerson & Richard Lucas & Ed Sandvik, 2002. "Dispositional Affect and Job Outcomes," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 59(3), pages 229-259, September.
  18. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Blair, Edward & Burton, Scot, 1987. " Cognitive Processes Used by Survey Respondents to Answer Behavioral Frequency Questions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 280-88, September.
  20. Almudena Sevilla Sanz & Jose Ignacio GImenez Nadal, 2007. "A Note on Leisure Inequality in the US: 1965-2003," Economics Series Working Papers 374, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Marie Connolly Pray, 2011. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: the Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Cahiers de recherche 1116, CIRPEE.
  2. Steven J. Atlas & Jonathan Skinner, 2010. "Education and the Prevalence of Pain," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 145-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "The Rug Rat Race," NBER Working Papers 15284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Richard Zeckhauser & W. Viscusi, 2008. "Discounting dilemmas: Editors’ introduction," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 95-106, December.
  5. Benjamin Volland, 2012. "The vertical transmission of time use choices," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  6. Christopher Christodoulou & Stefan Schneider & Arthur Stone, 2014. "Validation of a Brief Yesterday Measure of Hedonic Well-Being and Daily Activities: Comparison with the Day Reconstruction Method," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 907-917, February.
  7. Haiou Zhou, 2012. "A New Framework of Happiness Survey and Evaluation of National Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 108(3), pages 491-507, September.
  8. Layard, Richard, 2008. "Introduction," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1773-1776, August.
  9. Blanchflower, David G., 2008. "International Evidence on Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 3354, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. M. Fleurbaey., 2012. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 2.
  11. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2009. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0030, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  12. D.P. Doessel & Ruth F.G. Williams, 2012. "The New Welfare Measures," Working Papers 2012.07, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  13. Ho, Lok Sang, 2011. "Hong Kong's happiness indices: What they tell us about LIFE?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 564-572.

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