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What (If Anything) Do Satisfaction Scores Tell Us about the Intertemporal Change in Living Conditions

  • Christoph Wunder
  • Johannes Schwarze
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    This paper looks at the information content of satisfaction scores. It is argued that the information content depends on the extent to which people adapt to living conditions in general. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), the estimation of a dynamic panel data model provides evidence that adaptation takes place within a relatively short window of time: changes in living conditions are, for the most part, absorbed by an adjustment of the adaptation level within one year. This leads to the conclusion that the information content of satisfaction scores accentuates recent changes in living conditions. Remote changes are notcaptured by the according survey questions, even if these changes have long-term impact on living conditions. The usefulness of satisfaction scores as an indicator of people's living conditions is discussed.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.357660.de/diw_sp0306.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 306.

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    Length: 13 p.
    Date of creation: 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp306
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    1. Alex Michalos, 1985. "Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 347-413, May.
    2. Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
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    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, 07.
    10. Denis Huschka & Gert G. Wagner, 2010. "Sind Indikatoren zur Lebensqualität und zur Lebenszufriedenheit als politische Zielgrößen sinnvoll?," Research Notes of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 43, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    11. Christoph Wunder, 2009. "Adaptation to Income over Time: A Weak Point of Subjective Well-Being," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 269-281.
    12. Thomas Siedler & JÜrgen Schupp & C. Katharina Spiess & Gert G. Wagner, 2009. "The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) as Reference Data Set," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 367-374.
    13. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. J.J. Ehrhardt & W.E. Saris & R. Veenhoven, 2000. "Stability of Life-satisfaction over Time," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 177-205, June.
    15. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
    16. Paul Dolan & Tessa Peasgood, 2008. "Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy: Preferences or Experiences?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages S5-S31, 06.
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