Of Happiness and of Despair, Is There a Measure? Time Use and Subjective Well-being
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Data from the 1975 U.S. time use survey, Canadian time use surveys (GSS) conducted from 1986 to 2010, and experience sampling surveys (ESM) conducted in 1985 and 2003 at the University of Waterloo (Canada) are used to examine well-being effects of time use. Indicators of subjective well-being (SWB) under investigation include: (a) generalised enjoyment ratings of selected daily activities; (b) reporting of the single most enjoyed activity performed on the time diary day; (c) affect ratings of daily activities recorded in ESM surveys at the time of their occurrence; (d) correlations between time use and levels of respondents’ perceived happiness and life satisfaction, and (e) relationships between frequency of participation in different groups of daily activities and respondents’ cumulative affect ratings during a survey week (ESM 1985, 2003). An argument is made that attempts to delineate indices of SWB as multiples of activity enjoyment ratings and their duration encounter considerable measurement and conceptual difficulties. It is suggested that prolonged exposure to highly enjoyed daily activities does not always foretell higher levels of cumulative subjective well-being, which is associated with balanced use of time rather than increased participation in individual activities.
KeywordsTime use DRM ESM Subjective well-being Measurement
The 1985 and 2003 ESM surveys were supported by Grants from the Canadian Federal Department of Fitness and Amateur Sport and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and were directed by Jiri Zuzanek (principal investigator) and Roger Mannell. The author would like to thank Kimberly Fisher, Margo Hilbrecht, Steven Mock, Tania White and Natasha Graham for their advice.
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