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Measuring Preferences by Subjective Well-Being

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

The measurement of preferences is an ongoing challenge for economists. New insights can be won by relying on reported subjective well-being in addition to observed behaviour. Empirical estimates of well-being functions, based on a sample of 5500 Swiss residents, find that unemployed persons are much unhappier than employed ones. Differences in life satisfaction between income classes are quite small and improvements in financial situation hardly raise happiness. Moreover, well-being functions are valuable in revealing the utility derived from constitutional conditions. Our econometric estimates suggest that more extended citizens' participation possibilities in the democratic process tend to raise subjective well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 1999. "Measuring Preferences by Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 755-778, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(199912)155:4_755:mpbsw_2.0.tx_2-6
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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