Measuring and Monitoring Subjective Well-Being
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Measuring and Monitoring Subjective Well-Being - The German Experience Heinz-Herbert Noll GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences Social Indicators Research Centre (ZSi) Mannheim, Germany www.gesis.org/social-indicators

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Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Measuring and Monitoring Subjective Well-Being - The German Experience

Heinz-Herbert Noll

GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Social Indicators Research Centre (ZSi)

Mannheim, Germany

www.gesis.org/social-indicators

Satellite Meeting - Measuring Subjective Well-Being: An Opportunity for National Statistical Offices?

Florence, July 23-24


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Situation in Germany:

Strong reluctance of German statistical office (destatis) to collect “subjective information”, e.g. data on Subjective Well-Being; exceptions as yet almost completely restricted to European surveys like, e.g. EU-SILC

 partly due to „division of labour“ in collection and supply of data

Well developed science based data infrastructure beyond official statistics

Long tradition of measuring, monitoring & reporting subjective well- being


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

  • Science Driven Survey-Data Infrastructure – Two Examples

  • German Welfare Survey

  • - Emerged from large scale project on social Indicators during the 1970s

  • - Strong focus on the measurement of subjective well-being,

  • - Large number of different SWB – measures (incl. Ill-Being)

  • - Survey rounds in 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1990 (East Germany), 1993, 1998

  • More Information: http://www.gesis.org/en/services/data/survey-data/welfare-survey/

  • German Socio-Economic Household Panel Study (SOEP)

    • Longitudinal Survey (Panel)

    • First round in 1984

    • Since then every year

    • East Germany included in 1990

    • Large sample (2006: ca. 11.000 households with more than 20.000 respondents)

    • Complex sample design, includes non-German population

    • Multitude of SWB-measures, among them life satisfaction, several domain satisfactions

      - Personal interviews with each household member 16 years +

      More Information:http://www.diw.de/english/soep/29012.html


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Several other important national Survey – Programmes, e.g.

 German General Social Survey (ALLBUS)

 German Ageing Survey  SWB as one of the key topics

International Survey – Programmes (see Noll 2008), eg.

 European Social Survey

 European Quality of Life Survey

 International Social Survey Programme

 World Value Survey / European Values Study




Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Long Tradition in Reporting on SWB as Part of General Social Reporting

 Datenreport = Most Important and Popular Comprehensive German Social Report

 Since 2nd edition in 1985 joint venture of official statistics (destatis) and academic social research (since 1989: GESIS, WZB)

 Academic part titled „Living Conditions and Subjective Well-Being“; (English Version of „Datenreport 1985“ published in Social Indicators Research, Vol. 19, no 1, 1987)


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

 Focus on Quality of Life in Terms of Objective Living Conditions and Subjective Well-Being (as well as their interrelations)

 ‚Well-Being‘ = combination of good living conditions and high level of SWB

 goal for policy making


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Example from Datenreport 1985: Conditions

„Life satisfaction: past, present, future“


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

Example Datenreport 1985: Conditions

„Importance of life domains and con-cerns for well-being and satisfaction“


Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

 Latest Edition (12th) of Datenreport = 2008 Conditions

Available for Download at:

www.gesis.org/datenreport/





Measuring and monitoring subjective well being the german experience heinz herbert noll gesis leibniz institute 1324109

  • Conclusions from German Experience: Domains“

  •  Official Statistics not needed as basic provider of SWB - data; there are plenty of good quality data on various aspect of SWB since many years

  •  Data provided by statistical offices are not necessarily of better quality than data from other sources

  • Quality of official survey data may suffer from the same kind of problems as non- official survey data, e.g.

  • - biased samples / non-response (if not compulsory)

    • - inappropriate question wordings / formats

    • - inadequate answering scales

    • - problems of comparability or equivalence in international surveys

  •  Major advantage of official surveys are large sample sizes, allowing detailed analysis for small population subgroups, regions etc

  •  Measures of SWB (not only life satisfaction) should though be included into official surveys – e.g. like HBS, LFS, EU-SILC – in order to considerably enrich these surveys and to enhance their analytical potential in various ways