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Does it Matter How Happiness is Measured? Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Experiment

28 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2011  

Raphael Studer

Independent

Date Written: November 1, 2011

Abstract

A continuous and a discrete rating scale were implemented for a single item happiness question in a representative survey. A randomized controlled experiment enables unique analyses on data quality and distributions, which suggest superiority of the continuous scale. Results raise doubts about earlier inferences drawn on correlates of happiness. So far only self-assessed discrete happiness data have been used for research into the determinants of happiness. However, distribution distortions were found for the numerically labeled discrete scale, especially for women. Through this discretization bias, the widely reported gender happiness inequality puzzle can be explained.

Keywords: Happiness, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, likert scale, visual analogue scale, rating scales, gender inequalities, gender gap

JEL Classification: C81, I31

Suggested Citation

Studer, Raphael, Does it Matter How Happiness is Measured? Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Experiment (November 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1963817 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1963817

Raphael Studer (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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