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

Author

Listed:
  • 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 for aspects related to family, health, security, values, freedom, happiness, and life satisfaction.

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  • Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2014. "Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2698-2735, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:9:p:2698-2735
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.9.2698
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fleurbaey,Marc & Maniquet,François, 2011. "A Theory of Fairness and Social Welfare," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521715348, May.
    2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2014. "Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2698-2735, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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