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Why social policy needs subjective indicators

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  • Veenhoven, Ruut

Abstract

There are many qualms about subjective indicators, and some people believe that social policy should better not use them. This paper consists of a review of these objections. It is argued that policy makers need subjective indicators for the following reasons: 1. Social policy is never limited to merely material matters; it is also aimed at matters of mentality. These substantially subjective goals require subjective indicators. 2. Progress in material goals can not always be measured objectively. Subjective measurement often is better. 3. Inclusive measurement is problematic with objective substance. Current sum scores make little sense. Using subjective satisfaction better indicates comprehensive quality of life. 4. Objective indicators do little to inform policy makers about public preferences. Since the political process also does not reflect public preferences too well, policy makers need additional information from opinion polls. 5. Policy makers have to distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. Needs are not observable as such, but their gratification materialises in the length and happiness of peoples’ lives. This final output criterion requires assessment of subjective appreciation of life as a whole. --

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting with number FS III 01-404.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbssr:fsiii01404

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  1. van Praag, Bernard & Goedhart, Theo & Kapteyn, Arie, 1980. "The Poverty Line-A Pilot Survey in Europe," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 461-65, August.
  2. Ruut Veenhoven, 2000. "The Four Qualities of Life," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-39, March.
  3. Jeroen Boelhouwer & Ineke Stoop, 1999. "Measuring well-being in the Netherlands: The SCP index from 1974 to 1997," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 51-75, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Bookwalter, Jeffrey & Fitch-Fleischmann, Benjamin & Dalenberg, Douglas, 2011. "Understanding life-satisfaction changes in post-apartheid South Africa," MPRA Paper 34579, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Veenhoven, Ruut, 2004. "Subjective Measures of Well-being," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Chack Wong & Ka Wong & Bong Mok, 2006. "Subjective Well-Being, Societal Condition and Social Policy – The Case Study of a Rich Chinese Society," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 78(3), pages 405-428, 09.
  4. V. Yiengprugsawan & S. Seubsman & S. Khamman & L. Lim & A. Sleigh, 2010. "Personal Wellbeing Index in a National Cohort of 87,134 Thai Adults," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 98(2), pages 201-215, September.
  5. Gabriel Leite Mota, 2007. "Why Should Happiness Have a Role in Welfare Economics? Happiness versus Orthodoxy and Capabilities," FEP Working Papers 253, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  6. Heinz-Herbert Noll, 2013. "Subjective Social Indicators: Benefits and Limitations for Policy Making—An Introduction to this Special Issue," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 1-11, October.
  7. Kaiser, Lutz C., 2005. "Gender-Job Satisfaction Differences across Europe: An Indicator for Labor Market Modernization," IZA Discussion Papers 1876, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Feng Sun & Jing Xiao, 2012. "Perceived Social Policy Fairness and Subjective Wellbeing: Evidence from China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 107(1), pages 171-186, May.
  9. Lutz C. Kaiser, 2005. "Gender-Job Satisfaction Differences across Europe: An Indicator for Labor Market Modernization," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 537, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. Lewer, Joshua J. & Pacheco, Gail & Rossouw, Stephanié, 2009. "Do Non-Economic Quality of Life Factors Drive Immigration?," IZA Discussion Papers 4385, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Björn Halleröd & Daniel Seldén, 2013. "The Multi-dimensional Characteristics of Wellbeing: How Different Aspects of Wellbeing Interact and Do Not Interact with Each Other," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 807-825, September.
  12. Patrick Flavin & Alexander Pacek & Benjamin Radcliff, 2010. "Labor Unions and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from New Data," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 98(3), pages 435-449, September.
  13. Emanuele Blasi & Maria Nucera & Clara Cicatiello & Silvio Franco, 2013. "Socio-demographic Components of Eudaimonic Well-Being: A Survey in an Italian Province," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 451-470, August.
  14. Brent Bleys, 2012. "Beyond GDP: Classifying Alternative Measures for Progress," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 355-376, December.
  15. Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan & Boonchai Somboonsook & Sam-ang Seubsman & Adrian Sleigh, 2012. "Happiness, Mental Health, and Socio-Demographic Associations Among a National Cohort of Thai Adults," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(6), pages 1019-1029, December.
  16. Jacopo Baggio & Elissaios Papyrakis, 2014. "Agent-Based Simulations of Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 623-635, January.
  17. Jussi Simpura, 2013. "“Così è (se vi pare)”: Remarks on Subjective Well-Being from a Resource-Based Perspective," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 45-58, October.
  18. AndreaSalvatore Antonio Barbieri, 2014. "(English) Can the Economics of Happiness Revive the Economics of Welfare (Italiano) L’economia della felicità può rinnovare l’economia del benessere?," IRPPS Working Papers 60:2014, National Research Council, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies.
  19. John Grable & Sam Cupples & Fred Fernatt & NaRita Anderson, 2013. "Evaluating the Link Between Perceived Income Adequacy and Financial Satisfaction: A Resource Deficit Hypothesis Approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 1109-1124, December.
  20. Pamela Abbott & Claire Wallace, 2012. "Social Quality: A Way to Measure the Quality of Society," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 108(1), pages 153-167, August.
  21. Luis Santos & Isabel Martins, 2007. "Monitoring Urban Quality of Life: The Porto Experience," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 80(2), pages 411-425, January.
  22. Vanessa Gash & Antje Mertens & Laura Romeu Gordo, 2010. "Women between Part-Time and Full-Time Work: The Influence of Changing Hours of Work on Happiness and Life-Satisfaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 268, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  23. Achim Goerres & Katrin Prinzen, 2012. "Can We Improve the Measurement of Attitudes Towards the Welfare State? A Constructive Critique of Survey Instruments with Evidence from Focus Groups," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 515-534, December.
  24. Hayati, Dariush & Karami, Ezatollah, 2005. "Typology of causes of poverty: The perception of Iranian farmers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 884-901, December.

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