The American Time Use Survey (ATUS), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, included a subjective well-being (SWB) module in 2010 and 2012. The module, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is being considered for inclusion in the ATUS for 2013. The National Research Council was asked to evaluate measures of self-reported well-being and offer guidance about their adoption in official government surveys. The charge for the study included an interim report to consider the usefulness of the ATUS SWB module, specifically the value of continuing it for at least one more wave. Among the key points raised in this report are the value, methodological benefits, and cost and effects on the ATUS and new opportunities.
Research on subjective or self-reported well-being has been ongoing for several decades, with the past few years seeing an increased interest by some countries in using SWB measures to evaluate government policies and provide a broader assessment of the health of a society than is provided by such standard economic measures as gross domestic product. NIA asked the panel to prepare an interim report on the usefulness of the SWB module of the ATUS, with a view as to the utility of continuing the module in 2013.
The Subjective Well-Being Module of the American Time Use Survey is intended to fulfill only one narrow aspect of the panel's broader task. It provides an overview of the ATUS and the SWB module, a brief discussion of research applications to date, and a preliminary assessment of the value of SWB module data. The panel's final report will address issues of whether research has advanced to the point that SWB measures-and which kinds of measures-should be regularly included in major surveys of official statistical agencies to help inform government economic and social policies.