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Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices

Daniel Benjamin, Ori Heffetz, Miles Kimball and Alex Rees-Jones

No 18927, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: We survey 561 students from U.S. medical schools shortly after they submit choice rankings over residencies to the National Resident Matching Program. We elicit (a) these choice rankings, (b) anticipated subjective well-being (SWB) rankings, and (c) expected features of the residencies (such as prestige). We find substantial differences between choice and anticipated-SWB rankings in the implied tradeoffs between residency features. In our data, evaluative SWB measures (life satisfaction and Cantril's ladder) imply tradeoffs closer to choice than does affective happiness (even time-integrated), and as close as do multi-measure SWB indices. We discuss implications for using SWB data in applied work.

JEL-codes: C81 D03 D69 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dcm and nep-neu
Note: AG LS PE
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Published as Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2014. "Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3498-3528, November.

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