Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: the Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being
More and more economists and politicians are advocating the use of comprehensive measures of well-being, on top of the usual national accounting measures, to assess the welfare of populations. Researchers using subjective well-being data should be aware of the potential biasing effects of the weather on their estimates. In this paper, I investigate the responsiveness of well-being to climate and transitory weather conditions by analyzing subjective well-being data collected in the Princeton Affect and Time Survey. I study general satisfaction questions about life in general, life at home, health and one’s job, as well as questions concerning feelings intensities during specific episodes. I find that women are much more responsive than men to the weather, and that life satisfaction decreases with the amount of rain on the day of the interview. Low temperatures increase happiness and reduce tiredness and stress, raising net affect, and high temperatures reduce happiness, consistent with the fact that the surveys was conducted in the summer. I conclude by suggesting methods to reduce the possible biases.
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