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Weekends and Subjective Well-Being

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  • John Helliwell
  • Shun Wang

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • John Helliwell & Shun Wang, 2014. "Weekends and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 389-407, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:116:y:2014:i:2:p:389-407
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-013-0306-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington‐Leigh, 2010. "Viewpoint: Measuring and understanding subjective well‐being," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(3), pages 729-753, August.
    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. John F. Helliwell, 2014. "Understanding and improving the social context of well-being," Chapters, in: Timo J. Hämäläinen & Juliet Michaelson (ed.), Well-Being and Beyond, chapter 5, pages 125-143, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. John Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2011. "Well-Being and Trust in the Workplace," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(5), pages 747-767, October.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. 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.
    9. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    10. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Weekend effects; Life evaluations; Emotions; Happiness; Subjective well-being; Holidays; Cantril Ladder; Day-of-week effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other

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