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

  • Conti, Gabriella
  • Pudney, Stephen

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2008-39.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-39
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  1. LEVY-GARBOUA, Louis & MONTMARQUETTE, Claude, 1997. "Reported Job Satisfaction : What Does It Mean?," Cahiers de recherche 9705, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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  3. Das, J.W.M. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1996. "A Panel Data Model for Subjective Information on Household Income Growth," Discussion Paper 1996-75, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  7. Booth, Alison L & van Ours, Jan C, 2007. "Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-time Work Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6471, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Matthias Benz, 2005. "Not for the Profit, but for the Satisfaction? - Evidence on Worker Well-Being in Non-Profit Firms," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 155-176, 04.
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  10. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1999. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 42, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1988. "Job Switching and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 495-594.
  12. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  13. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2002. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," CeMMAP working papers CWP18/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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  16. Clark, A.E., 1995. "Job Satisfaction and Gender: Why Are Women so Happy at Work?," DELTA Working Papers 95-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  17. Michael Rose, 2005. "Job Satisfaction in Britain: Coping with Complexity," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 455-467, 09.
  18. Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Sousa-Poza, Andres A., 2000. "Well-being at work: a cross-national analysis of the levels and determinants of job satisfaction," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 517-538, November.
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