Weather and Subjective Well-Being

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 12 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Tamas HAJDU, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, CERS, Hungary
In this research we analyze the effect of the weather on individual subjective well-being. Previous studies found inconsistent results. The classical and widely cited paper of Schwarz and Clore (1983) found that respondents reported higher levels of satisfaction and happiness on sunny days compared to rainy days. Although this results was confirmed by some studies (Kämpfer – Mutz, 2013, Feddersen et al, 2012), other papers concluded that daily weather conditions have no influence on well-being (Lucas – Lawless, 2013, Schmiedberg – Schröder, 2014). Others argue that the effect of weather on well-being might be significant, but it is unimportant regarding the estimated effects of major determinants of well-being: inclusion or exclusion of weather conditions in the estimated models on life satisfaction do not influence the coefficients of other explanatory variables (Barrington-Leigh, 2008).

The aim of our research is to provide new evidence on the relationship between weather and subjective well-being. We use data from a nationally representative panel survey from Hungary (TÁRKI Hungarian Household Panel 1992-1997, n=4500), and city-level daily weather data come from the Hungarian Meteorological Service.

Our research has two novelties. First, using panel data we are able to control for time-invariant person-specific traits that are important predictors of satisfaction. Second, while estimating the effect of the weather on the day of the interview is widespread practice in the literature, it is possible that weather on the day of the interview influences subjective well-being in a relative manner: compared to weather on the previous days. In other words, a sunny day might matter more if the previous day was rainy. In order to check this hypothesis, we estimate models including a broader set of weather variables. Our results might have implications for the comparability of well-being measures across regions and countries.