September 2015

IZA DP No. 9396: A Cross-State Comparison of Measures of Subjective Well-Being

published in: International Journal of Wellbeing, 2017, 7 (1), 65-83

Using data drawn from the 2010 American Time Use Survey Well-Being Module, this study examines the relationship between three measures of subjective well-being based on time-use data and an objective measure of well-being. Whereas the measures of affect – net affect and the U-index – are uncorrelated with the objective quality-of-life ranking of the fifty states in the United States, the measure of meaningfulness shows a significant correlation with objective ranking. The reason for the significant correlation between the measure of meaningfulness and the objective measure of well-being is because, when engaged in similar activities, people living in states with better quality of life felt, after controlling for their individual characteristics, their lives to be more meaningful than those living in states with poor amenities, not because time use varies substantially by state.