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Does the Choice of Well-Being Measure Matter Empirically?: An Illustration with German Data

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  • Koen Decancq
  • Dirk Neumann

Abstract

We discuss and compare fi ve measures of individual well-being, namely income, an objective composite well-being index, a measure of subjective well-being, equivalent income, and a well-being measure based on the von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities of the individuals. After examining the information requirements of these measures, we illustrate their implementation using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for 2010. We fi nd sizeable differences in the characteristics of the individuals identi ed as worst of according to the different well-being measures. Less than 1% of the individuals belong to the bottom decile according to all five measures. Moreover, the measures lead to considerably different well-being rankings of the individuals. These findings highlight the importance of the choice of well-being measure for policy making.

Suggested Citation

  • Koen Decancq & Dirk Neumann, 2014. "Does the Choice of Well-Being Measure Matter Empirically?: An Illustration with German Data," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 717, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp717
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    Keywords

    Income; composite well-being index; life satisfaction; equivalent income; von Neumann-Morgenstern utility function; worst off; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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