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Weekends and Subjective Well-Being

  • John Helliwell


  • Shun Wang


This paper exploits the richness and large sample size of the Gallup/Healthways US daily poll to illustrate significant differences in the dynamics of two key measures of subjective well-being: emotions and life evaluations. We find that there is no day-of week effect for life evaluations, represented here by the Cantril Ladder, but significantly more happiness, enjoyment, and laughter, and significantly less anxiety, sadness, and anger on weekends (including public holidays) than on weekdays. We then find strong evidence of the importance of the social context, both at work and at home, in explaining the size and likely determinants of the weekend effects for emotions. Weekend effects are twice as large for full-time paid workers as for the rest of the population, and are much smaller for those whose work supervisor is considered a partner rather than a boss and who report trustable and open work environments. A large portion of the weekend effects is explained by differences in the amount of time spent with friends or family between weekends and weekdays (7.1 vs. 5.4 h). The extra daily social time of 1.7 h in weekends raises average happiness by about 2 %. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 116 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 389-407

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:116:y:2014:i:2:p:389-407
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  1. John F. Helliwell, 2012. "Understanding and Improving the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 18486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi & Jeremy Hunter, 2003. "Happiness in Everyday Life: The Uses of Experience Sampling," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 185-199, June.
  3. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  4. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2008. "Well-being and Trust in the Workplace," NBER Working Papers 14589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter, 2009. "Sundays Are Blue: Aren’t They? The Day-of-the-Week Effect on Subjective Well-Being and Socio-Economic Status," IZA Discussion Papers 4563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Viewpoint: Measuring and understanding subjective well-being," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(3), pages 729-753, August.
  8. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  10. Ben Jann, 2008. "A Stata implementation of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition," ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers 5, ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology, revised 14 May 2008.
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