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If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! Survey design and the analysis of satisfaction

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  • Gabriella Conti
  • Stephen Pudney

Abstract

Surveys differ in the way they measure satisfaction and happiness, so comparative research findings are vulnerable to distortion by survey design differences. We examine this using the British Household Panel Survey, exploiting its changes in question design and parallel use of different interview modes. We find significant biases in econometric results, particularly for gender differences in attitudes to the wage and hours of work. Results suggest that the common empirical finding that women care less than men about their wage and more about their hours may be an artifact of survey design rather than a real behavioural difference.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriella Conti & Stephen Pudney, 2008. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! Survey design and the analysis of satisfaction," Working Papers 016, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  • Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tabasso, D, 2009. "Temporary Contracts and Monopsony Power in the UK Labour Market," Economics Discussion Papers 8938, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    2. Berry, Mary O'Neill & Reichman, Walter & Klobas, Jane & MacLachlan, Malcolm & Hui, Harry C. & Carr, Stuart C., 2011. "Humanitarian work psychology: The contributions of organizational psychology to poverty reduction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 240-247, March.
    3. Wunder, Christoph & Heineck, Guido, 2013. "Working time preferences, hours mismatch and well-being of couples: Are there spillovers?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 244-252.
    4. Beegle, Kathleen & Himelein, Kristen & Ravallion, Martin, 2012. "Frame-of-reference bias in subjective welfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 556-570.
    5. Jennifer C. Smith, 2015. "Pay Growth, Fairness, and Job Satisfaction: Implications for Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(3), pages 852-877, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Satisfaction; measurement error; questionnaire design; BHPS;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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