Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology


This dissertation addressed the problem of a lack of integration in the study of objective and subjective social indicators within social accounting systems. The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between objective and subjective indicators of economic well-being within different age, racial and sexual groups and to examine the stability of these relationships over time;Data for the analysis were the 1972-1980 General Social Surveys, administered by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). Each survey includes approximately 1500 adult respondents. A total of 12,120 interviews are analyzed. Subjective economic well-being was operationalized by a measure of financial satisfaction. Objective economic well-being was measured by family income calculated in constant dollars. Analysis of covariance was used to assess differences in the objective-subjective relationship within demographic subgroups;Stratification theory was used to identify subgroups that have experienced constraints on access to economic resources and opportunities. An accommodation hypothesis was developed to explain differential subjective response to objective conditions within subgroups. It was hypothesized that the greater the extent to which subgroups must accommodate their economic situation, the weaker the relationship between objective and subjective economic well-being;Findings supported the hypothesis that the relationship would be weakest among the oldest age group compared to other age groups. No differences were found between sex and racial groups. Support was found for the hypothesis that predicted smaller coefficients among subgroups characterized as older, female and nonwhite. The relationships were found to remain stable within all demographic subgroups over time. Results reinforce the need for the parallel development and assessment of both objective and subjective indicators in social accounting systems.



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Cynthia Needles Fletcher



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114 pages