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Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference

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  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • Ori Heffetz
  • Miles S. Kimball
  • Nichole Szembrot

Abstract

This paper proposes foundations and a methodology for survey-based tracking of well-being. First, we develop a theory in which utility depends on “fundamental aspects” of well-being, measurable with surveys. Second, drawing from psychologists, philosophers, and economists, we compile a comprehensive list of such aspects. Third, we demonstrate our proposed method for estimating the aspects’ relative marginal utilities—a necessary input for constructing an individual-level well-being index—by asking ~4,600 U.S. survey respondents to state their preference between pairs of aspect bundles. We estimate high relative marginal utilities not only for happiness and life satisfaction, but also for aspects related to family, health, security, values, and freedoms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18374.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18374

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References

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  1. Paul Dolan & Richard Layard & Robert Metcalfe, 2011. "Measuring subjective well-being for public policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35420, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Koen Decancq & Luc Van Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2013. "What If We Voted on the Weights of a Multidimensional Well‐Being Index? An Illustration with Flemish Data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34, pages 315-332, 09.
  3. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik & DECANCQ, Koen, 2009. "What good is happiness?," CORE Discussion Papers 2009017, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
  5. DECANCQ, Koen & LUGO, Maria Ana, . "Weights in multidimensional indices of wellbeing: an overview," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2493, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2013. "Aggregating Local Preferences to Guide Marginal Policy Adjustments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 605-10, May.
  2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2013. "Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices," NBER Working Papers 18927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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