National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

SUBJECTIVE
WELL-BEING

Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and
Other Dimensions of Experience

Panel on Measuring Subjective Well-Being in a Policy-Relevant Framework
Arthur A. Stone and Christopher Mackie, Editors

Committee on National Statistics

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                    OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS     500 Fifth Street, NW     Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Task Order No. N01-OD-42139 between the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences, and award number 10000592 between the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences. Support for the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (award number SES-1024012). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-29446-1
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-29446-0

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2013). Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Panel on Measuring Subjective Well-Being in a Policy-Relevant Framework. A.A. Stone and C. Mackie, Editors. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

PANEL ON MEASURING SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING IN A POLICY-RELEVANT FRAMEWORK

ARTHUR A. STONE (Chair), Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stony Brook University

NORMAN M. BRADBURN, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago

LAURA L. CARSTENSEN, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

EDWARD F. DIENER, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

PAUL H. DOLAN, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science

CAROL L. GRAHAM, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, and School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park

V. JOSEPH HOTZ, Department of Economics, Duke University

DANIEL KAHNEMAN, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

ARIE KAPTEYN, Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California, and RAND Corporation

AMANDA SACKER, Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London

NORBERT SCHWARZ, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

JUSTIN WOLFERS, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

CHRISTOPHER MACKIE, Study Director

ANTHONY S. MANN, Program Coordinator

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 2013-2014

LAWRENCE D. BROWN (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

JOHN M. ABOWD, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

MARY ELLEN BOCK, Department of Statistics, Purdue University

DAVID CARD, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

ALICIA CARRIQUIRY, Department of Statistics, Iowa State University

MICHAEL E. CHERNEW, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University

JAMES S. HOUSE, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

MICHAEL HOUT, Department of Sociology, New York University

SALLIE ANN KELLER, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, Arlington, Virginia

LISA LYNCH, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

COLM A. O’MUIRCHEARTAIGH, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago

RUTH D. PETERSON, Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University

EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University and Arizona State University

HAL STERN, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine

CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director

JACQUELINE R. SOVDE, Program Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

Acknowledgments

This report is the product of contributions from many colleagues, whom we thank for their insights and counsel. The project was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health and by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). We thank Richard Suzman and Lis Nielsen at NIA and Paul Boyle, Joy Todd, Ruth Lee, and Margot Walker at ESRC for their leadership in the area of subjective well-being (SWB) measurement and for their guidance and input to the project.

The panel also thanks the following individuals who attended the panel’s open meetings and generously presented material to inform our deliberations. Angus Deaton (Princeton University) informed the panel about his analyses of Gallup data and other relevant research; Robert Groves (then director of the U.S. Census Bureau, now provost of Georgetown University) provided an overview of the potential role of federal surveys and statistical programs for advancing the measurement of SWB; and Richard Frank (Harvard University) and Jennifer Madans (National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) outlined the role of SWB measures in health research and policy and informed the panel about government experiences with them. Paul Allin, Stephen Hicks, Glenn Everett, and Dawn Snape (UK Office for National Statistics) provided overviews of exciting experimental work ongoing in the United Kingdom. Conal Smith, Carrie Exton, and Marco Mira d’Ercole (OECD) kept the panel abreast of their impressive work on the OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being, which was being conducted as the panel’s

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

work was under way. Somnath Chatterji (World Health Organization) discussed the organization’s ongoing work on SWB as it pertains to health; Rachel Kranz-Kent (Bureau of Labor Statistics) provided an overview and plans for the agency’s American Time Use Survey module on SWB; Michael Wolfson (University of Ottawa; formerly, Statistics Canada) informed the panel about Canada’s experiences in developing and using well-being and quality-of-life measures; Steven Landefeld (Bureau of Economic Analysis) outlined the role of national economic accounts in measuring welfare and their relationship to measures of well-being; Michael Horrigan (Bureau of Labor Statistics) described his agency’s interests in time-use statistics and well-being measures; Hermann Habermann (formerly with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the United Nations Statistical Division, and the U.S. Census Bureau) provided insights into U.S. and international statistical agencies’ perspectives on the measurement of SWB; and Georgios Kavetsos and Laura Kudrna (London School of Economics) summarized their research findings (with panel member Paul Dolan) from analyses of data from the UK Office for National Statistics.

The panel could not have conducted its work efficiently without a very capable staff. Constance Citro, director of the Committee on National Statistics, and Robert Hauser, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE), provided institutional leadership and substantive contributions during meetings; Kirsten Sampson-Snyder, DBASSE, expertly coordinated the review process; and Robert Katt provided thoughtful and thorough final editing. We also thank program coordinator Anthony Mann for his terrific logistical support of our local and overseas meetings.

On behalf of the panel, I especially thank the study director, Christopher Mackie, for his superb oversight of the panel’s activities and his substantive contributions to the panel’s work and this report. He skillfully and intelligently organized meetings and helped create a cordial and stimulating environment for conducting the panel’s work. Chris mastered an entirely new domain of knowledge and contributed to the report by his careful and insightful editing of panel members’ preliminary drafts of materials and diligent work on the final draft. And I would like to extend a personal note of gratitude to Chris for his unwavering optimism and good humor throughout this process; it was a delightful experience working with him on this project.

Most importantly, I would like to thank panel members for their patience, creativity, hard work, and graciousness when dealing with one another. Psychologists, sociologists, and economists often have different world views, and the panel was exceptionally cordial and considerate of

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

all viewpoints. The report reflects collective expertise and commitment of all panel members: Norman Bradburn, University of Chicago; Laura Carstensen, Stanford University; Edward Diener, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Paul Dolan, London School of Economics and Political Science; Carol Graham, The Brookings Institution and University of Maryland, College Park; V. Joseph Hotz, Duke University; Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University; Arie Kapteyn, Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California and RAND Corporation; Amanda Sacker, University College London; Norbert Schwarz, University of Michigan; and Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan. We all benefited from and enjoyed the depth of knowledge the panel members brought—literally—to the table.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the institution in making its reports as sound as possible, and to ensure that the reports meet institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

The panel thanks the following individuals for their review of this report: Linda M. Bartoshuk, Center for Smell and Taste, University of Florida; Cynthia M. Beall, Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University; Jennie E. Brand, Department of Sociology and California Center for Population Research, University of California, Los Angeles; Dora Costa, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Richard A. Easterlin, Department of Economics, University of Southern California; Jim Harter, Workplace Management and Wellbeing, Gallup; Martin Seligman, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania; Dylan Smith, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University; Jacqui Smith, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan; Tom W. Smith, NORC at the University of Chicago; Frank Stafford, Department of Economics, University of Michigan; Andrew Steptoe, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London; and Joseph E. Stiglitz, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by James S. House, Survey

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

Research Center, Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan, and Ronald Brookmeyer, Department of Biostatistics, University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed by the NRC’s Report Review Committee, they were responsible for making certain that the independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the NRC.

Arthur A. Stone, Chair
Panel on Measuring Subjective Well-Being
in a Policy-Relevant Framework

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

3      MEASURING EXPERIENCED WELL-BEING

3.1    Ecological Momentary Assessment

3.2    Single-Day Measures

3.2.1    End-of-Day Measures

3.2.2    Global-Yesterday Measures

3.2.3    Appropriateness and Reliability of Single-Day Assessments of ExWB

3.3    Reconstructed Activity-Based Measures

3.3.1    Comparing DRM with Momentary Approaches

3.3.2    Time-Use Surveys

4      ADDITIONAL CONCEPTUAL AND MEASUREMENT ISSUES

4.1    Cultural Considerations

4.2    Aging and the Positivity Effect

4.3    Sensitivity of ExWB Measures to Changing Conditions

4.4    Adaptation, Response Shift, and the Validity of ExWB Measures

4.5    Survey Contextual Influences

4.6    Question-Order Effects

4.7    Scale Effects

4.8    Survey-Mode Effects

5      SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING AND POLICY

5.1    What Do SWB Constructs Predict?

5.2    What Questions Can Be Informed by SWB Data: Evaluating Their Uses

5.2.1    The Health Domain

5.2.2    Applications Beyond the Health Domain

6      DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES

6.1    Overall Approach

6.1.1    The Measurement Ideal

6.1.2    Next Steps and Practical Considerations

6.2    How to Leverage and Coordinate Existing Data Sources

6.2.1    SWB in Health Surveys and Other Special-Purpose Surveys

6.2.2    Taking Advantage of ATUS

6.3    Research and Experimentation—The Role of Smaller-Scale Studies, Nonsurvey Data, and New Technologies

REFERENCES

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR1
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR2
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR3
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR5
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR6
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR7
Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR10
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR11
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR12
Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR13
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18548.
×
PageR14
Next: Summary »
Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $44.00 Buy Ebook | $35.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Subjective well-being refers to how people experience and evaluate their lives and specific domains and activities in their lives. This information has already proven valuable to researchers, who have produced insights about the emotional states and experiences of people belonging to different groups, engaged in different activities, at different points in the life course, and involved in different family and community structures. Research has also revealed relationships between people's self-reported, subjectively assessed states and their behavior and decisions. Research on subjective well-being has been ongoing for decades, providing new information about the human condition. During the past decade, interest in the topic among policy makers, national statistical offices, academic researchers, the media, and the public has increased markedly because of its potential for shedding light on the economic, social, and health conditions of populations and for informing policy decisions across these domains.

Subjective Well-Being: Measuring Happiness, Suffering, and Other Dimensions of Experience explores the use of this measure in population surveys. This report reviews the current state of research and evaluates methods for the measurement. In this report, a range of potential experienced well-being data applications are cited, from cost-benefit studies of health care delivery to commuting and transportation planning, environmental valuation, and outdoor recreation resource monitoring, and even to assessment of end-of-life treatment options.

Subjective Well-Being finds that, whether used to assess the consequence of people's situations and policies that might affect them or to explore determinants of outcomes, contextual and covariate data are needed alongside the subjective well-being measures. This report offers guidance about adopting subjective well-being measures in official government surveys to inform social and economic policies and considers whether research has advanced to a point which warrants the federal government collecting data that allow aspects of the population's subjective well-being to be tracked and associated with changing conditions.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!