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A Framework of Happiness Survey and Evaluation of Gross National Happiness


  • Haiou Zhou


Happiness surveys based on self-report can generate unreliable data due to respondents’ imperfect retrospection, vulnerability to context, and arbitrariness in measuring happiness. To overcome these problems, this article proposes to incorporate a method of measuring happiness, which is developed by Ng (1996) based on Edgeworth’s notion of “Just Perceivable Increment†of happiness, with the Day Reconstruction Method developed by Kahneman et al (2004a) to form a new happiness survey procedure. Distinguished from many surveys that simply ask respondents to rate their subjective wellbeing on a given scale, this happiness measuring method provide detailed instructions to help respondents determine and use their personal happiness units, which are interpersonally comparable, in measuring happiness. While the Day Reconstruction Method helps avoid the effects of imperfect retrospection and external disturbances, the proposed method of measuring happiness can help reduce the arbitrariness in self-measurement and derive accurate, coherent and interpersonally comparable happiness metrics. Therefore, data collected from such a survey can be used as a more reliable informational foundation for the evaluation of gross national happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Haiou Zhou, 2010. "A Framework of Happiness Survey and Evaluation of Gross National Happiness," Monash Economics Working Papers 50-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2010-50

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    More about this item


    Happiness survey; Day Reconstruction Method; Just Perceivable Increment; Wellbeing; Gross National Happiness;

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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