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Weekends and Subjective Well-Being

  • John F. Helliwell
  • Shun Wang

This paper exploits the richness and large sample size of the Gallup/Healthways US daily poll to illustrate significant differences in the dynamics of two key measures of subjective well-being: emotions and life evaluations. We find that there is no day-of-week effect for life evaluations, represented here by the Cantril Ladder, but significantly more happiness, enjoyment, and laughter, and significantly less worry, sadness, and anger on weekends (including public holidays) than on weekdays. We then find strong evidence of the importance of the social context, both at work and at home, in explaining the size and likely determinants of the weekend effects for emotions. Weekend effects are twice as large for full-time paid workers as for the rest of the population, and are much smaller for those whose work supervisor is considered a partner rather than a boss and who report trustable and open work environments. A large portion of the weekend effects is explained by differences in the amount of time spent with friends or family between weekends and weekdays (7.1 vs. 5.4 hours). The extra daily social time of 1.7 hours in weekends raises average happiness by about 2%.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17180.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17180.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Publication status: published as John Helliwell & Shun Wang, 2014. "Weekends and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 389-407, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17180
Note: LS PE
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  1. John F. Helliwell, 2012. "Understanding and Improving the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 18486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  3. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter, 2009. "Sundays Are Blue: Aren’t They? The Day-of-the-Week Effect on Subjective Well-Being and Socio-Economic Status," IZA Discussion Papers 4563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi & Jeremy Hunter, 2003. "Happiness in Everyday Life: The Uses of Experience Sampling," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 185-199, June.
  5. John Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2011. "Well-Being and Trust in the Workplace," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(5), pages 747-767, October.
  6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  7. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Viewpoint: Measuring and understanding subjective well-being," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(3), pages 729-753, August.
  8. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Ben Jann, 2008. "A Stata implementation of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition," ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers 5, ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology, revised 14 May 2008.
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