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Life Satisfaction

  • Kapteyn, Arie

    ()

    (University of Southern California)

  • Smith, James P.

    ()

    (RAND)

  • van Soest, Arthur

    ()

    (Tilburg University)

We analyze the determinants of global life satisfaction in two countries (The Netherlands and the U.S.), by using both self-reports and responses to a battery of vignette questions. We find global life satisfaction of happiness is well-described by four domains: job or daily activities, social contacts and family, health, and income. Among the four domains, social contacts and family have the highest impact on global life satisfaction, followed by job and daily activities and health. Income has the lowest impact. As in other work, we find that American response styles differ from the Dutch in that Americans are more likely to use the extremes of the scale (either very satisfied or very dissatisfied) than the Dutch, who are more inclined to stay in the middle of the scale. Although for both Americans and the Dutch, income is the least important determinant of global life satisfaction, it is more important in the U.S. than in The Netherlands. Indeed life satisfaction varies substantially more with income in the U.S. than in The Netherlands.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4015.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: E. Diener, J.E. Helliwell and D. Kahneman (eds.), International Differences in Well-Being, Oxford University Press, 2010, 70-104
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4015
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," NBER Working Papers 8198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," NBER Working Papers 14282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. van Soest, A.H.O. & Delaney, L. & Harmon, C. & Kapteyn, A. & Smith, J.P., 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," Discussion Paper 2007-43, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. 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).
  5. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur Van Soest, 2013. "Are A mericans Really Less Happy with Their Incomes?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(1), pages 44-65, 03.
  6. 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.
  7. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Working Papers 206, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  8. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  10. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
  11. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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