NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures

Alan B. Krueger, David A. Schkade

NBER Working Paper No. 13027
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):   LS

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).

download in pdf format
   (174 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (174 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13027

Published: Krueger, Alan B. & Schkade, David A., 2008. "The reliability of subjective well-being measures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1833-1845, August.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Helliwell and Barrington-Leigh w15887 Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being
Krueger, Kahneman, Schkade, Schwarz, and Stone National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life
Stevenson and Wolfers w14282 Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox
Sacks, Stevenson, and Wolfers w16441 Subjective Well-Being, Income, Economic Development and Growth
Blanchflower and Oswald w16668 International Happiness
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us