IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?


  • Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell

    (Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, and SEO, Amsterdam Economics, University of Amsterdam)

  • Paul Frijters

    (Dept. of General Economics, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Psychologists and sociologists usually interpret answers to happiness surveys as cardinal and comparableacross respondents (Kahneman et al. 1999). As a result, these social scientists run OLS regressionson happiness and changes in happiness. Economists, on the other hand, usually only assume ordinalcomparability and have mainly used ordered latent response models. As a consequence, economists haveby and large not taken satisfactory account of fixed individual traits. We address this latter problemby developing a conditional estimator for the fixed-effect ordered logit model. The empirical findingspresented show that it makes virtually no difference whether one assumes ordinality or cardinality ofhappiness answers, whilst allowing for fixed-effects does change results substantially. This leads us toadvocate allowing for and endogenising the persistent personality traits that make up these fixed-effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20020024

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    More about this item


    Fixed effects; happiness methodology; unobservables; latent variabIe models;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20020024. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Tinbergen Office +31 (0)10-4088900 (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.