Conclusions Regarding Cross-Group Differences in Happiness Depend on Difficulty of Reaching Respondents

41 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2012 Last revised: 20 Dec 2013

See all articles by Ori Heffetz

Ori Heffetz

Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics and Center for Rationality; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew Rabin

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 25, 2013

Abstract

A growing literature explores differences in subjective well-being across demographic groups, often relying on surveys with high nonresponse rates. By using the reported number of call attempts made to participants in the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, we show that comparisons among easy-to-reach respondents differ from comparisons among hard-to-reach ones. Notably, easy-to-reach women are happier than easy-to-reach men, but hard-to-reach men are happier than hard-to-reach women, and conclusions of a survey could reverse with more attempted calls. Better alternatives to comparing group sample averages might include putting greater weight on hard-to-reach respondents or even extrapolating trends in responses.

Keywords: nonresponse bias, selection bias, happiness, surveys

JEL Classification: B49, C83, I31, J1

Suggested Citation

Heffetz, Ori and Rabin, Matthew, Conclusions Regarding Cross-Group Differences in Happiness Depend on Difficulty of Reaching Respondents (January 25, 2013). American Economic Review, 103(7): 3001-3021. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2101097 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2101097

Ori Heffetz (Contact Author)

Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

324 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics and Center for Rationality

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~heffetz

Matthew Rabin

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

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