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A "happiness test" for the new measures of national well-being: How much better than GDP are they?

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  • Delhey, Jan
  • Kroll, Christian

Abstract

Across the globe there is growing skepticism about the usefulness of GDP as a measure of national well-being. Consequently, several alternative quality-of-life (QOL) measures were developed which either aim at healing the GDP, complementing it, or replacing it. This chapter portrays some of these new measures and puts them to a happiness test: compared to the GDP, are the new QOL measures better able to capture what makes people happy and satisfied with their lives? Using data for 34 OECD societies, we can show that from a happiness perspective, there is-surprisingly-little wrong with the GDP, and most alternative QOL measures do not outperform GDP. Yet, one measure actually does a better job: the OECD's Better Life Index which is particularly effective when it comes to predicting subjective well-being in the richest OECD countries. In sum, the chapter demonstrates that a happiness perspective can add important insights along the way to facilitate the search for a new, widely accepted, internationally comparable measure of well-being. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration with number SP I 2012-201.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbisi:spi2012201

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Keywords: Better Life Index; GDP; happiness; Human Development Index; life satisfaction; national well-being; quality of life;

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  1. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gallup_world_poll_jep_spring2008 is not listed on IDEAS
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  3. Michael Hagerty & Robert Cummins & Abbott Ferriss & Kenneth Land & Alex Michalos & Mark Peterson & Andrew Sharpe & Joseph Sirgy & Joachim Vogel, 2001. "Quality of Life Indexes for National Policy: Review and Agenda for Research," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 55(1), pages 1-96, July.
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  7. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Christian Kroll & Jan Delhey, 2013. "A Happy Nation? Opportunities and Challenges of Using Subjective Indicators in Policymaking," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 13-28, October.
  2. Carla Collicelli, 2013. "Subjective Indicators in the Health Sector and Their Usefulness in Policy Making," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 87-103, October.

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