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 Paper

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)


Time use surveys and experienced well-being in France and the United States

The last decade has seen a sustained surge of interest in measures of subjective well-being on the part of economists and other social scientists. The vast majority of the academic literature on subjective well-being focuses on measures of life evaluation, as does most discussion of how measures of subjective well-being can be applied to policy. However, measures of life evaluation have well-known limitations, and other measures of subjective well-being, including experienced well-being (i.e. people’s time use and emotional state over time), can be an important complement to measures of life evaluation. As of 2016, however, few countries have included experienced well-being in their official time use surveys, and there is relatively little understanding of how different methodological approaches to measuring experienced well-being affect the results obtained. This paper presents results using data from the US and the French time use surveys, showing that the different approaches adopted by these two countries have quite different implications for the data collected. Results highlight the sensitivity of experienced well-being measures – particularly the U-index – to the choice of affective states included, and shed light on the differing results found in the literature on how unemployment impacts upon experienced well-being.


Keywords: measurement, experienced well-being, U-index, time use survey
JEL: J22: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Time Allocation and Labor Supply; I31: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / General Welfare; Well-Being; C8: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
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