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Conclusions Regarding Cross-Group Differences in Happiness Depend on Difficulty of Reaching Respondents

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  • Ori Heffetz
  • Matthew Rabin

Abstract

A growing literature explores differences in subjective well-being across demographic groups, often relying on surveys with high nonresponse rates. By using the reported number of call attempts made to participants in the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers, we show that comparisons among easy-to-reach respondents differ from comparisons among hard-to-reach ones. Notably, easy-to-reach women are happier than easy-to-reach men, but hard-to-reach men are happier than hard-to-reach women, and conclusions of a survey could reverse with more attempted calls. Better alternatives to comparing group sample averages might include putting greater weight on hard-to-reach respondents or even extrapolating trends in responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Ori Heffetz & Matthew Rabin, 2013. "Conclusions Regarding Cross-Group Differences in Happiness Depend on Difficulty of Reaching Respondents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 3001-3021, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:7:p:3001-21 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.7.3001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 190-225.
    2. Katharine G. Abraham & Sara E. Helms & Stanley Presser, 2008. "How Social Processes Distort Measurement: The Impact of Survey Nonresponse on Estimates of Volunteer Work," NBER Working Papers 14076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Schwandt, Hannes, 2016. "Unmet aspirations as an explanation for the age U-shape in wellbeing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 75-87.
    2. Paul Dolan & Georgios Kavetsos, 2016. "Happy Talk: Mode of Administration Effects on Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 1273-1291, June.
    3. Sajons, Christoph, 2016. "Information on the ballot, voter satisfaction and election turnout," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 16/05, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    4. Hetschko, Clemens & Chadi, Adrian, 2014. "The Magic of the New: How Job Changes Affect Job Satisfaction," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100329, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Femke De Keulenaer & Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Georgios Kavetsos & Michael I. Norton & Bert Van Landeghem & George W. Ward, 2014. "The Asymmetric Experience of Positive and Negative Economic Growth: Global Evidence Using Subjective Well-Being Data," CEP Discussion Papers dp1304, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Perez-Arce, Francisco, 2017. "The effect of education on time preferences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 52-64.
    7. Adrian Chadi, 2014. "Dissatisfied with Life or with Being Interviewed? Happiness and Motivation to Participate in a Survey," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201403, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    8. María Laura Arrosa & Néstor Gandelman, 2016. "Happiness Decomposition: Female Optimism," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 731-756, April.
    9. Van Landeghem, Bert, 2014. "A test based on panel refreshments for panel conditioning in stated utility measures," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 236-238.
    10. Crossley, Thomas & de Bresser, Jochem & Delaney, L. & Winter, Joachim, 2017. "Can survey participation alter household saving behaviour?," Other publications TiSEM 56e57f52-f6eb-4203-8b19-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    11. Wu, Wenjie, 2015. "Rail access and subjective well-being: Evidence from quality of life surveys," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 456-470.
    12. Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Schurer, Stefanie & Leung, Felix, 2015. "Testing the Validity of Item Non-Response as a Proxy for Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 8874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Schuh, Scott, 2017. "Measuring consumer expenditures with payment diaries," Working Papers 17-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    14. Nikolova, Elena & Sanfey, Peter, 2016. "How much should we trust life satisfaction data? Evidence from the Life in Transition Survey," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 720-731.
    15. Ori Heffetz & Daniel B. Reeves, 2016. "Difficulty to Reach Respondents and Nonresponse Bias: Evidence from Large Government Surveys," NBER Working Papers 22333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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