From Average Joe's happiness to Miserable Jane and Cheerful John: Using quantile regressions to analyze the full subjective well-being distribution

Martin Binder, Alex Coad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Standard regression techniques are only able to give an incomplete picture of the relationship between subjective well-being and its determinants since the very idea of conventional estimators such as OLS is the averaging out over the whole distribution: studies based on such regression techniques thus are implicitly only interested in Average Joe's happiness. Using cross-sectional data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) for the year 2006, we apply quantile regressions to analyze effects of a set of explanatory variables on different quantiles of the happiness distribution and compare these results with a standard regression. Among our results we observe a decreasing importance of income, health status and social factors with increasing quantiles of happiness. Another finding is that education has a positive association with happiness at the lower quantiles but a negative association at the upper quantiles. We explore the robustness of our findings in various ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume79
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Aug
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • BHPS
  • Happiness
  • I12
  • I31
  • Life satisfaction
  • Mental well-being
  • Quantile regressions
  • R15
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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