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National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

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Author Info

  • 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. 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.
  2. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2007. "Lags and leads in life satisfaction: a test of the baseline hypothesis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19656, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring trends in leisure: the allocation of time over five decades," Working Papers 06-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  10. 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.
  11. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas I. Mueller, 2012. "The Lot Of The Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 765-794, 08.
  13. Robert W. Fogel, 1999. "Catching Up with the Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 1-21, March.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," Working Papers 64, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "The Rug Rat Race," NBER Working Papers 15284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2009. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US cities," NBER Working Papers 15376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. M. Fleurbaey., 2012. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 2.
  6. Benjamin Volland, 2012. "The vertical transmission of time use choices," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-05, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. D.P. Doessel & Ruth F.G. Williams, 2012. "The New Welfare Measures," Working Papers 2012.07, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  10. 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.

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