Evaluating comparability of survey data on subjective well-being

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the problem of comparability in the context of microeconomic survey data, focussing particularly on the commonly used 0–10 numeric response scale. Most of the discussions of comparability presented in the literature concerns interpersonal (across-individual) comparability. However, the increasing availability of panel data implies a need for a discussion also of intertemporal (within-individual) comparability. This chapter provides a discussion of the nature, causes and consequences of comparability issues in subjective wellbeing data, and an overview of possible approaches to this problem. Finally, some worked examples and empirical evidence are presented, using Australian data. These results support the assumption that the eleven-point numeric life satisfaction scale yields scores which are ordinally distinct both across and within individuals, and that the assumption of equidistance across the scale (and therefore of cardinal comparability) seems reasonable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetrics of Subjective Well-Being
Subtitle of host publicationLimits and Improvements
EditorsGael Brule, Filomena Maggino
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISBN (Electronic)9783319618104
ISBN (Print)9783319618098
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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