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Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations

National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being

Surely everyone wants to know the source of happiness, and indeed, economists and social scientists are increasingly interested in the study and effects of subjective well-being. Putting forward a rigorous method and new data for measuring, comparing, and analyzing the relationship between well-being and the way people spend their time—across countries, demographic groups, and history—this book will help set the agenda of research and policy for decades to come.

It does so by introducing a system of National Time Accounting (NTA), which relies on individuals’ own evaluations of their emotional experiences during various uses of time, a distinct departure from subjective measures such as life satisfaction and objective measures such as the Gross Domestic Product. A distinguished group of contributors here summarize the NTA method, provide illustrative findings about well-being based on NTA, and subject the approach to a rigorous conceptual and methodological critique that advances the field. As subjective well-being is topical in economics, psychology, and other social sciences, this book should have cross-disciplinary appeal.


280 pages | 1 halftone, 30 line drawings, 74 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--General Theory and Principles

Table of Contents

Introduction and Overview

Alan B. Krueger

1. National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life

Alan B. Krueger, Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade, Norbert Schwarz, and Arthur A. Stone

2. That Which Makes Life Worthwhile

George Loewenstein

3. Measuring National Well Being

David M. Cutler

4. National Time Accounting and National Economic Accounting

J. Steven Landefeld

5. Measuring Real Income with Leisure and Household Production

William Nordhaus

6. Well-Being Measurement and Public Policy

Richard Layard

7. International Evidence on Well-Being

David G. Blanchflower

8. Thoughts on “National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life”

Erik Hurst

9. Rejoinder 

Alan B. Krueger, Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade, Norbert Schwarz, and Arthur A. Stone

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