Well-being through the lens of the internet

[Measure] Big Data & Well-Being

Algan, Y., Murtin, F., Beasley, E., Higa, K., & Senik, C. (2019). “Well-being through the lens of the internet”. PloS one, 14(1), e0209562.

We build models to estimate well-being in the United States based on changes in the volume of internet searches for different words, obtained from the Google Trends website. The estimated well-being series are weighted combinations of word groups that are endogenously identified to fit the weekly subjective well-being measures collected by Gallup Analytics for the United States or the biannual measures for the 50 states. Our approach combines theoretical underpinnings and statistical analysis, and the model we construct successfully estimates the out-of-sample evolution of most subjective well-being measures at a one-year horizon. Our analysis suggests that internet search data can be a complement to traditional survey data to measure and analyze the well-being of a population at high frequency and local geographic levels. We highlight some factors that are important for well-being, as we find that internet searches associated with job search, civic participation, and healthy habits consistently predict well-being across several models, datasets and use cases during the period studied.