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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - World Bank Policy Research Working Paper
Title How reliable and consistent are subjective measures of welfare in Europe and Central Asia ? Evidence from the second life in transition survey
Issue WPS6359
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://intranet.worldbank.org/servlet/main?pagePK=51249221&piPK=51249218&theSitePK=2884135&menuPK=64​154159&searchMenuPK=2884177&theSitePK=2884135&ImgPagePK=64167970&entityID=000158349_20130213094528&s​earchMenuPK=2884177&theSitePK=2884135
This paper analyzes the reliability and consistency of subjective well-being measures. Using the Life in Transition Survey, which was administered in 34 countries of Europe and Central Asia in 2006 and 2010, the paper evaluates subjective well-being measures (satisfaction with life and subjective relative income position) against objective measures of welfare based on consumption and assets. It uses the different formulations of life satisfaction in the survey to test robustness to alternative framing and scaling. It also explores within-household differences in subjective well-being assessments. The analysis finds that subjective relative income is weakly correlated with household relative welfare position as measured by consumption or assets. Life satisfaction, by contrast, is highly correlated with objective and subjective measures of household welfare. It generally reflects cross-country differences in average consumption, assets, or per capita gross domestic product, although Central Asian countries report much higher life satisfaction levels than their incomes would suggest. Two alternative measures of life satisfaction are highly correlated and the correspondence between verbal and numeric scales is strong within a country or groupings of similar countries. Within households, subjective assessments of relative income are roughly consistent but measurement error is correlated with individual characteristics (gender and age of respondents), which could cause systematic biases in the analysis.

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