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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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