Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being
AbstractIncreasing attention is being paid in academic, policy, and public arenas to subjective measures of well-being. This promising trend represents a shift towards measuring positive outcomes in psychology and greater realism in the study of economic behaviour. After a general review of past and potential uses for subjective well-being data, and a discussion of why some economists have previously been sceptical of SWB data, we present global and Canadian examples from our own research to illustrate what can be learned. Differences in subjective well-being will be shown to be large and sustained across individuals, communities, provinces and nations. Although the patterns of subjective well-being are very different across Canada than across the world, we show that in both cases the differences can be fairly well accounted for by the same set of life circumstances. Our examples of policy-relevant research findings include new accountings of the differences in individual-level SWB assessments around the world and across Canada. These highlight the importance of social factors whose role has otherwise been hard to quantify in income-equivalent terms.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15887.
Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being John F. Helliwell and Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh Canadian Journal of Economics, Vol. 43, Issue 3, pp. 729-753.
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
- I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
- J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
- P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
- P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-04-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2010-04-17 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-NEU-2010-04-17 (Neuroeconomics)
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