From Discrete 1 to 10 Towards Continuous 0 to 10: The Continuum Approach to Estimating the Distribution of Happiness in a Nation
Happiness is often measured in surveys using responses to a single question with a limited number of response options, such as 'very happy', 'fairly happy' and 'not too happy'. There is much variety in the wording and number of response options used, which limits comparability across surveys. To solve this problem, descriptive statistics of the discrete distribution in the sample are often transformed to a common discrete secondary scale, mostly ranging from 0 to 10. In an earlier publication we proposed a method for estimating statistics of the corresponding continuous distribution in the population (Kalmijn 2010). In the present paper we extend this method to questions using numerical response scales. The application of this 'continuum approach' to results obtained using the often used 1-10 numerical scale can make these comparable to those obtained on the basis of verbal response scales.