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Grading happiness: what grading systems tell us about cross-country wellbeing comparisons

Author

Listed:
  • Fernanda Marquez-Padilla

    (CIDE)

  • Jorge Alvarez

    (IMF)

Abstract

Self-reported wellbeing measures have been widely used in cross-country studies. However, there are concerns about the sensitivity of these measures to country-specific factors that affect the interpretation of questions and scales without affecting wellbeing itself. Using a novel database on international grading systems, we find evidence that differences in numerical grading systems affect self-reported wellbeing. In particular, countries with a higher threshold for passing grades tend to report higher levels of life satisfaction. Since grading systems are unlikely to affect wellbeing itself, we conclude that grading systems affect the interpretation of scales--probably by providing reference points that anchor individuals' responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernanda Marquez-Padilla & Jorge Alvarez, 2018. "Grading happiness: what grading systems tell us about cross-country wellbeing comparisons," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 38(2), pages 1138-1155.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-18-00325
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. If happiness is going to become the new GDP, we need to get at measuring it
      by ? in Forum:Blog on 2018-10-02 09:13:59

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective wellbeing; Life satisfaction; Response styles;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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