How Much Should We Trust Life Satisfaction Data? Evidence from the Life in Transition Survey

39 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2014 Last revised: 15 Nov 2014

See all articles by Elena Nikolova

Elena Nikolova

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); University College London - School of Slavonic and East European Studies; IOS Regensburg

Peter Sanfey

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Date Written: November 12, 2014

Abstract

We analyse responses to two similar life satisfaction questions asked during the same interview for each respondent in a major cross-country household survey covering the transition region, Turkey and five Western European countries. We show that while the answers to the two questions are broadly consistent for most people, the responses for some groups differ significantly. Older and less healthy respondents show systematically lower levels of self-reported satisfaction in the later question, as do those living under less democratic, more repressive regimes. We also find evidence that responses to the later question are influenced by preceding questions on socio-economic status and social capital, and that response precision depends on the interviewee's socio-economic status. Our results have important implications for the design and length of household surveys that contain subjective questions.

Keywords: happiness, LiTS, transition region

JEL Classification: D6, I31

Suggested Citation

Nikolova, Elena and Nikolova, Elena and Sanfey, Peter, How Much Should We Trust Life Satisfaction Data? Evidence from the Life in Transition Survey (November 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2521449 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2521449

Elena Nikolova (Contact Author)

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) ( email )

Zvolensk√° 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

University College London - School of Slavonic and East European Studies ( email )

Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom

IOS Regensburg ( email )

Landshuter Str. 4
Regensburg, 93047
Germany

Peter Sanfey

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ( email )

One Exchange Square
London, EC2A 2JN
United Kingdom
+44 20 7338 6227 (Phone)
+44 20 7338 6110 (Fax)

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