Welfare, labor supply and heterogeneous preferences: evidence for Europe and the US

Publication type

EUROMOD Working Paper Series

Series Number



EUROMOD Working Paper Series


Publication date

December 21, 2011


Following the report of the Stiglitz Commission, measuring and comparing well-being
across countries has gained renewed interest. Yet, analyses that go beyond
income and incorporate non-market dimensions of welfare most often rely on the
assumption of identical preferences to avoid the difficulties related to
interpersonal comparisons. In this paper, we suggest an international
comparison based on individual welfare rankings that fully retain preference heterogeneity.
Focusing on the consumption-leisure trade-off, we estimate discrete choice labor
supply models using harmonized microdata for 11 European countries and the US.
We retrieve preference heterogeneity within and across countries and analyze
several welfare criteria which take into account that differences in income are
partly due to differences in tastes. The resulting welfare rankings clearly
depend on the normative treatment of preference heterogeneity with alternative
metrics. We show that these differences can indeed be explained by estimated
preference heterogeneity across countries – rather than demographic composition


Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest