How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?

Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Paul Frijters

Research output: Working paperProfessional

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Abstract

Psychologists and sociologists usually interpret answers to happiness surveys as cardinal and comparableacross respondents (Kahneman et al. 1999). As a result, these social scientists run OLS regressionson happiness and changes in happiness. Economists, on the other hand, usually only assume ordinalcomparability and have mainly used ordered latent response models. As a consequence, economists haveby and large not taken satisfactory account of fixed individual traits. We address this latter problemby developing a conditional estimator for the fixed-effect ordered logit model. The empirical findingspresented show that it makes virtually no difference whether one assumes ordinality or cardinality ofhappiness answers, whilst allowing for fixed-effects does change results substantially. This leads us toadvocate allowing for and endogenising the persistent personality traits that make up these fixed-effects.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherTinbergen Instituut
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Publication series

NameDiscussion paper TI
No.02-024/3

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