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The measure matters: an investigation of evaluative and experience-based measures of wellbeing in time use data

By Paul Dolan, Laura Kudrna and Arthur Stone


Measures of subjective wellbeing (SWB) are used to understand how people think and feel about their lives and experiences. But the measure used matters to conclusions about how well people’s lives are going. This research compares life evaluations and experienced SWB using nationally representative time use diaries, advancing previous research because diaries are less subject to recall biases than other, more popular methods. Analyses of over 20,000 US residents in 2012–2013 show life evaluations are more closely associated with positive and negative affect than experienced meaningfulness. Women have higher SWB than men except for negative affect, older age groups have higher SWB than middle age groups except for experienced meaningfulness, and younger age groups report the lowest experienced meaning. The unemployed have low life evaluations but experiences of SWB are similar across employment groups. A complete picture of SWB requires a complete set of measures

Topics: H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s11205-016-1429-8
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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