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National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

In: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being

Author

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  • Alan B. Krueger
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • David Schkade
  • Norbert Schwarz
  • Arthur A. Stone

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 well-being in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the U-index, 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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Suggested Citation

  • Alan B. Krueger & Daniel Kahneman & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur A. Stone, 2009. "National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 9-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:5053
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    Cited by:

    1. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2011. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2616-2652, October.
    2. Brad R. Humphreys & Hyunwoong Pyun, 2017. "Professional Sporting Events and Traffic: Evidence from US Cities," Working Papers 17-05, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    3. repec:uwp:jhriss:v:52:y:2017:i:2:p:374-417 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Song, Younghwan, 2017. "The Effect of Job Displacement on Subjective Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 10962, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Yoonjoo Lee & Sandra L. Hofferth & Sarah M. Flood & Kimberly Fisher, 2016. "Reliability, Validity, and Variability of the Subjective Well-Being Questions in the 2010 American Time Use Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 1355-1373, April.
    6. Jiri Zuzanek & Tamara Zuzanek, 2015. "Of Happiness and of Despair, Is There a Measure? Time Use and Subjective Well-being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 839-856, August.
    7. Marta Lachowska, 2017. "The Effect of Income on Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from the 2008 Economic Stimulus Tax Rebates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(2), pages 374-417.
    8. repec:eee:joecag:v:5:y:2015:i:c:p:33-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Marie Connolly, 2013. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: The Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 457-473, April.
    10. 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.
    11. D.P. Doessel & Ruth F.G. Williams, 2012. "The New Welfare Measures," Working Papers 2012.07, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
    12. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "The Rug Rat Race," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 129-199.
    13. Conal Smith & Christopher Mackie, 2015. "Conceptualizing Subjective Well-Being and its Many Dimensions – Implications for Data Collection in Official Statistics and for Policy Relevance," Statistics in Transition new series, Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Polska), vol. 16(3), pages 335-372, September.
    14. repec:exl:29stat:v:16:y:2015:i:3:p:335-372 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Stone Arthur A, 2011. "A Rationale for Including a Brief Assessment of Hedonic Well-being in Large-scale Surveys," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(3), pages 1-15, April.
    16. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2015. "Urban Land Use," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    18. Nahmias–Biran, Bat-hen & Shiftan, Yoram, 2016. "Towards a more equitable distribution of resources: Using activity-based models and subjective well-being measures in transport project evaluation," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 672-684.
    19. 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.
    20. 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: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 907-917, February.
    21. Benjamin Volland, 2012. "The vertical transmission of time use choices," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    22. Jason R. Williams & Yuta J. Masuda & Heather Tallis, 2016. "A Measure Whose Time has Come: Formalizing Time Poverty," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 265-283, August.
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    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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