Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: The Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being
- 2.3k Downloads
More and more economists and politicians are advocating the use of comprehensive measures of well-being, on top of the usual national accounting measures, to assess the welfare of populations. Researchers using subjective well-being data should be aware of the potential biasing effects of the weather on their estimates. In this paper, the responsiveness of well-being to climate and transitory weather conditions is investigated by analyzing subjective well-being data collected in the Princeton Affect and Time Survey. General satisfaction questions about life in general, life at home, health and one’s job, as well as questions concerning feelings intensities during specific episodes are studied. Women are much more responsive than men to the weather, and life satisfaction decreases with the amount of rain on the day of the interview. Low temperatures increase happiness and reduce tiredness and stress, raising net affect, and high temperatures reduce happiness, consistent with the fact that the survey was conducted in the summer. Methods to reduce the possible biases are suggested in the conclusion.
KeywordsSubjective well-being Life satisfaction Happiness Weather Temperature Precipitation
Funding from SSHRC and FQRSC is greatly acknowledged. I would like to thank Alan Krueger for making the data available and the project possible and Rod Hill for helpful comments. Yann Fortin provided excellent research assistance. All remaining errors are my own.
- Argyle, M. (1999). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 353–373). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Argyle, M. (2001). The psychology of happiness, 2nd edn. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Inc.Google Scholar
- Argyle, M., & Martin, M. (1991). The psychological causes of happiness. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being. An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 77–100). Oxford, England: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- Barrington-Leigh, C. P. (2008). Weather as a transient influence on survey-reported satisfaction with life. Department of Economics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from http://barringtonleigh.net/publications/Barrington-Leigh-weather-DRAFT2008.pd.
- Bok, D. (2010). The politics of happiness: What government can learn from the new research on well-being. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Goetzmann, W. N., & Zhu, N. (2003). Rain or shine: Where is the weather effect? Working Paper No. 9,465. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J. F., & Barrington-Leigh, C. P. (2010). Measuring and understanding subjective well-being. Working Paper No. 15,887. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwarz, N. (Eds.). (1999). Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York, NY: The Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Krueger, A. B., Kahneman, D., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2009). National time accounting: The currency of life. In A. B. Krueger (Ed.), Measuring the subjective well-being of nations. National accounts of time use and well-being (pp. 9–86). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- National Climatic Data Center. (1971–2000). Climatography of the U.S. No. 84: Daily station normals. Data set CLIM84. National oceanic and atmospheric administration. (Data file). Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.htm.
- National Climatic Data Center. (2006a). US cooperative summary of the day data, Data set 3200. National oceanic and atmospheric administration. (Data file). Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.htm.
- National Climatic Data Center. (2006b). US summary of the day first order data, Data set 3210. National oceanic and atmospheric administration. (Data file). Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.htm.
- Oren, D. A., & Rosenthal, N. E. (1992). Seasonal affective disorder. In E. S. Paykel (Ed.), Handbook of affective disorders, 2nd edn (pp. 551–568). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2011). Compendium of OECD better life indicators, OECD better life initiative. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/4/31/47917288.pdf Accessed 26 May 2011.
- Princeton Affect and Time Survey (2006). Wide data files and codebook. (Data file and code book). Retrieved from http://www.krueger.princeton.edu/PrincetonAffectandTimeSurvey.ph.
- Saunders, E. M. Jr. (1993). Stock prices and wall street weather. American Economic Review, 83(5), 1337–1345.Google Scholar
- Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1991). Evaluating one’s life: A judgment model of subjective well-being. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being. An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 27–47). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J. -P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Retrieved from http://www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr.
- Strack, F., Argyle, M., & Schwarz, N. (Eds.). (1991). Subjective well-being. An interdisciplinary perspective. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- The Economist. (2011). Happiness. Economist debates. The Economist. http://www.economist.com/debate/overview/204/Happiness Accessed 27 May 2011.