The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures

29 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2007 Last revised: 7 Aug 2010

See all articles by Alan B. Krueger

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

David Schkade

University of California, San Diego

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2007

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).

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Alan B. and Schkade, David, The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures (April 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13027. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979932

Alan B. Krueger (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

David Schkade

University of California, San Diego ( email )

Rady School of Management
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States
858-822-5933 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://management.ucsd.edu/cms/showcontent.aspx?ContentID=89

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
31
Abstract Views
2,553
PlumX Metrics