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The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures

Alan Krueger and David A. Schkade ()
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David A. Schkade: University of California, San Diego

No 2724, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: This paper studies the test-retest reliability of a standard self-reported life satisfaction measure and of affect measures collected from a diary method. The sample consists of 229 women who were interviewed on Thursdays, two weeks apart, in Spring 2005. The correlation of net affect (i.e., duration-weighted positive feelings less negative feelings) measured two weeks apart is 0.64, which is slightly higher than the correlation of life satisfaction (r=0.59). Correlations between income, net affect and life satisfaction are presented, and adjusted for attenuation bias due to measurement error. Life satisfaction is found to correlate much more strongly with income than does net affect. Components of affect that are more person-specific are found to have a higher test-retest reliability than components of affect that are more specific to the particular situation. While reliability figures for subjective well-being measures are lower than those typically found for education, income and many other microeconomic variables, they are probably sufficiently high to support much of the research that is currently being undertaken on subjective well-being, particularly in studies where group means are compared (e.g., across activities or demographic groups).

Keywords: diary method; test-retest reliability; self-reported; life satisfaction (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 J0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 30 pages
Date: 2007-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap
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Published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2008, 92 (8-9), 1833-1845

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Journal Article: The reliability of subjective well-being measures (2008) Downloads
Working Paper: The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures (2007) Downloads
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