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Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy: Preferences or Experiences?

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  • Paul Dolan
  • Tessa Peasgood
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    Abstract

    Policy makers seeking to enhance well-being are faced with a choice of possible measures that may offer contrasting views about how well an individual's life is going. We suggest that choice of well-being measure should be based on three general criteria: (1) the measure must be conceptually appropriate (that is, are we measuring the right sort of concept for public policy?), (2) it must be valid (that is, is it a good measure of that concept?), and (3) it must be empirically useful (that is, does it provide information in a format that can be readily used by policy makers?). Preference-based measures (as represented by income) are compared to experience-based measures (as represented by subjective evaluations of life) according to these criteria. Neither set of measures meets ideal standards, but experiences do fare at least as well as preferences, and subjective evaluations perform much better than income alone as a measure of well-being. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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    File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/595676
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
    Issue (Month): S2 (06)
    Pages: S5-S31

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:37:y:2008:i:s2:p:s5-s31

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    Cited by:
    1. Christoph Wunder & Johannes Schwarze, 2010. "What (If Anything) Do Satisfaction Scores Tell Us about the Intertemporal Change in Living Conditions," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 306, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Sima Ataollahi Eshkoor & Tengku Hamid & Siti Nudin & Chan Mun, 2014. "The Effects of Social Support, Substance Abuse and Health Care Supports on Life Satisfaction in Dementia," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 535-544, April.
    3. Paul Dolan & Georgios Kavetsos, 2012. "Happy talk: mode of administration effects on subjective well-being," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 45273, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. M. Salgueiro & Peter Smith & Marcel Vieira, 2013. "A multi-process second-order latent growth curve model for subjective well-being," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 735-752, February.
    5. Emmanouil Mentzakis & Paul McNamee & Mandy Ryan & Matthew Sutton, 2012. "Valuing Informal Care Experience: Does Choice of Measure Matter?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 108(1), pages 169-184, August.
    6. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2009. "Well-being across America," IZA Discussion Papers 4600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Edsel Beja & David Yap, 2013. "Counting Happiness from the Individual Level to the Group Level," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 621-637, November.
    8. Martin Binder, 2013. "Subjective Well-being Capabilities: Bridging the Gap between the Capability Approach and Subjective Well-Being Research," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-02, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
    9. Mario García Molina & Liliana Alejandra Chicaíza Becerra, 2013. "Felicidad:¿reemplazar o mejorar la utilidad subjetiva?," REVISTA CUADERNOS DE ECONOMÍA, UN - RCE - CID.
    10. Paul Dolan & Richard Layard & Robert Metcalfe, 2011. "Measuring Subjective Wellbeing for Public Policy: Recommendations on Measures," CEP Special Papers 23, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Fumio Ohtake & Katsunori Yamada, 2013. "Appraising the Unhappiness due to the Great East Japan Earthquake: Evidence from Weekly Panel Data on Subjective Well-being," ISER Discussion Paper 0876, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    12. Martin Binder, 2013. "Innovativeness and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 561-578, April.

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