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National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Daniel Kahneman

    (Princeton University)

  • David Schkade

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Norbert Schwarz

    (University of Michigan)

  • Arthur A. Stone

    (Stony Brook University)

This monograph proposes a new approach for measuring features of society’s subjective well-being, based on time allocation and affective experience. We call this approach National Time Accounting (NTA). National Time Accounting is a set of methods for measuring, comparing and analyzing how people spend and experience their time -- across countries, over historical time, or between groups of people within a country at a given time. The approach is based on evaluated time use, or the flow of emotional experience during daily activities. After reviewing evidence on the validity of subjective well-being measures, we present and evaluate diary-based survey techniques designed to measure individuals’ emotional experiences and time use. We illustrate NTA with: (1) a new cross-sectional survey on time use and emotional experience for a representative sample of 4,000 Americans; (2) historical data on the amount of time devoted to various activities in the United States since 1965; and (3) a comparison of time use and wellbeing in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the Uindex, a measure of the percentage of time that people spend in an unpleasant state, defined as an instance in which the most intense emotion is a negative one. The U-index helps to overcome some of the limitations of interpersonal comparisons of subjective well-being. National Time Accounting strikes us as a fertile area for future research because of advances in subjective measurement and because time use data are now regularly collected in many countries.

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File URL: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp0141687h46j
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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 1061.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp0141687h46j
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  1. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas Mueller, 2008. "The Lot of the Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," Working Papers 1062, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Ignace Glorieux, 1993. "Social interaction and the social meanings of action: A time budget approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 149-173, November.
  3. Andrew Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2003. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," DELTA Working Papers 2003-14, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  4. Marie Connolly Pray, 2011. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: the Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Cahiers de recherche 1116, CIRPEE.
  5. Krueger, Alan B. & Schkade, David A., 2008. "The reliability of subjective well-being measures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1833-1845, August.
  6. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  8. Robert W. Fogel, 1999. "Catching Up with the Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 1-21, March.
  9. Pollak, Robert A & Wachter, Michael L, 1975. "The Relevance of the Household Production Function and Its Implications for the Allocation of Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 255-77, April.
  10. Almudena Sevilla Sanz & Jose Ignacio GImenez Nadal, 2007. "A Note on Leisure Inequality in the US: 1965-2003," Economics Series Working Papers 374, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. James G. March, 1978. "Bounded Rationality, Ambiguity, and the Engineering of Choice," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 587-608, Autumn.
  12. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  13. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Gary Marks & Nicole Fleming, 1999. "Influences and Consequences of Well-being Among Australian Young People: 1980–1995," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 301-323, March.
  15. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
  16. Valerie Ramey & Neville Francis, 2006. "A Century of Work and Leisure," Working Papers id:546, eSocialSciences.
  17. Ed Diener & Carol Nickerson & Richard Lucas & Ed Sandvik, 2002. "Dispositional Affect and Job Outcomes," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 59(3), pages 229-259, September.
  18. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  19. Blair, Edward & Burton, Scot, 1987. " Cognitive Processes Used by Survey Respondents to Answer Behavioral Frequency Questions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 280-88, September.
  20. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
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