Adjusting for Scale-Use Heterogeneity in Self-Reported Well-Being / Daniel J. Benjamin, Kristen Cooper, Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, Jiannan Zhou.

Benjamin, Daniel J. [Browse]
Cambridge, Mass. National Bureau of Economic Research 2023.
1 online resource: illustrations (black and white);


  • Working Paper Series (National Bureau of Economic Research) no. w31728. [More in this series]
  • NBER working paper series no. w31728
Summary note
Analyses of self-reported-well-being (SWB) survey data may be confounded if people use response scales differently. We use calibration questions, designed to have the same objective answer across respondents, to measure dimensional (i.e., specific to an SWB dimension) and general (i.e., common across questions) scale-use heterogeneity. In a sample of ~3,350 MTurkers, we find substantial such heterogeneity that is correlated with demographics. We develop a theoretical framework and econometric approaches to quantify and adjust for this heterogeneity. We apply our new estimators in several standard SWB applications. Adjusting for general-scale-use heterogeneity changes results in some cases.
September 2023.
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