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Comparing Life Satisfaction

Author

Listed:
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • James P. Smith
  • Arthur Van Soest

Abstract

The authors analyze the determinants of global life satisfaction in two countries (The Netherlands and the U.S.), by using both self-reports and responses to a battery of vignette questions. They find global life satisfaction of happiness is well-described by four domains: job or daily activities, social contacts and family, health, and income. Among the four domains, social contacts and family have the highest impact on global life satisfaction, followed by job and daily activities and health. Income has the lowest impact. As in other work, they find that American response styles differ from the Dutch in that Americans are more likely to use the extremes of the scale (either very satisfied or very dissatisfied) than the Dutch, who are more inclined to stay in the middle of the scale. Although for both Americans and the Dutch, income is the least important determinant of global life satisfaction, it is more important in the U.S. than in The Netherlands. Indeed life satisfaction varies substantially more with income in the U.S. than in The Netherlands.

Suggested Citation

  • Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur Van Soest, 2009. "Comparing Life Satisfaction," Working Papers WR-623-1, RAND Corporation.
  • Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:wr-623-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; life satisfaction; vignettes; reporting bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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