The European Journal of Comparative Economics

ISSN: 1824-2979

EJCE Year: 2019, December. Volume: 16 - Issue: 2

Happiness, life satisfaction, well-being: survey design and response analysis

by Anna Maffioletti, Agata Maida, Francesco Scacciati

Start page: 277 - End page: 312

Keywords: Happiness, Satisfaction, Well-being, Survey design, Response behavior

DOI: 10.25428/1824-2979/201902-277-312

Abstract:

Several well-established surveys ask questions in order to measure subjective well-being. In some questionnaires, questions relate to happiness, in others, to individual well-being or satisfaction or to both happiness and satisfaction. In the literature of happiness, several papers have compared responses to these questions using available national and international data. However, employed data sets make it hard to properly disentangle wordings or scale effects from other survey design or survey administration effects. For this reason, we design a single ad hocsurvey in which we ask the same respondents to answer more than one well-being question. In addition, we use standardized scales across questions. We show that wording clearly matters: each subject self-reports her/his own happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being differently. We found that subjects do not perceive themselves as equivalent to one another and their determinants turn out to be different. Moreover, we find that the use of different scales leads to different results. However, the coefficients of the determinants across different notions of welfare and across different scales never reverse the sign.

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