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How reliable and consistent are subjective measures of welfare in Europe and Central Asia ? evidence from the second life in transition survey


  • Cojocaru, Alexandru
  • Diagne, Mame Fatou


This paper analyzes the reliability and consistency of subjective well-being measures. Using the Life in Transition Survey, which was administered in 34 countries of Europe and Central Asia in 2006 and 2010, the paper evaluates subjective well-being measures (satisfaction with life and subjective relative income position) against objective measures of welfare based on consumption and assets. It uses the different formulations of life satisfaction in the survey to test robustness to alternative framing and scaling. It also explores within-household differences in subjective well-being assessments. The analysis finds that subjective relative income is weakly correlated with household relative welfare position as measured by consumption or assets. Life satisfaction, by contrast, is highly correlated with objective and subjective measures of household welfare. It generally reflects cross-country differences in average consumption, assets, or per capita gross domestic product, although Central Asian countries report much higher life satisfaction levels than their incomes would suggest. Two alternative measures of life satisfaction are highly correlated and the correspondence between verbal and numeric scales is strong within a country or groupings of similar countries. Within households, subjective assessments of relative income are roughly consistent but measurement error is correlated with individual characteristics (gender and age of respondents), which could cause systematic biases in the analysis.

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  • Cojocaru, Alexandru & Diagne, Mame Fatou, 2013. "How reliable and consistent are subjective measures of welfare in Europe and Central Asia ? evidence from the second life in transition survey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6359, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6359

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sergei Guriev & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2009. "(Un)happiness in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 143-168, Spring.
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    7. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & Anthony Harris & Haifang Huang, 2009. "International Evidence on the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 14720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    12. Bernard M.S. Van Praag, 2004. "The Connexion between Old and New Approaches to Financial Satisfaction," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-053/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    13. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cojocaru, Alexandru & Diagne, Mame Fatou, 2014. "Should income inequality be reduced and who should benefit ? redistributive preferences in Europe and Central Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7097, The World Bank.
    2. Gimpelson, Vladimir & Treisman, Daniel, 2015. "Misperceiving Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 9100, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Alexandru Cojocaru, 2016. "Does Relative Deprivation Matter in Developing Countries: Evidence from Six Transition Economies," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 735-756, February.

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    Access to Finance; Economic Theory&Research; Rural Poverty Reduction; Investment and Investment Climate; Inequality;

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