OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Papers:

Testing the evidence, how good are public sector responsiveness measures and how to improve them? (with OECD Public Governance Directorate)

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)


More than the Sum of their Parts: Valuing Environmental Quality by Combining Life Satisfaction Surveys and GIS Data

While environmental economics studies using stated life satisfaction data have been gaining attention, much of this body of work remains exploratory. In this study we contribute to this emerging body of research by combining OECD survey data from four European countries on life satisfaction and perceptions of environmental quality with independent (i.e. mechanical) measurements of air quality and urbanity, from the European Environment Agency, to provide a broad picture of the environmental determinants of life satisfaction, and monetary valuation of air quality improvements. We also estimate that the value of a 1% reduction in air pollution (measured as mean annual PM10 concentrations) is worth the same on average as a 0.71% increase in per capita income. We find that environments which respondents perceive as noisy and lacking in access to green space have a significantly detrimental impact on life satisfaction. However, controlling for these negative factors (air, noise, and lack of green space), we also find a large positive residual impact of urban environments on life satisfaction. The use of independent, GIS-based measures of urbanity (proportion of urban surface area around households), as opposed to survey-based stated perceptions of urbanity, increases the precision of estimated air quality impacts on life satisfaction. Taken as a whole, our analysis highlights the need for conducting LS-based environmental assessment and valuation exercises using a broad array of independent data sources, in order both to obtain unbiased regression estimates and to facilitate interpretation of these estimates.


Keywords: environmental valuation, life satisfaction
JEL: H41: Public Economics / Publicly Provided Goods / Public Goods; R20: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / Household Analysis / Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Household Analysis: General; C21: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Single Equation Models; Single Variables / Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Q51: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Valuation of Environmental Effects; H23: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Taxation and Subsidies: Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies; Q53: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
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