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Measuring well-being across Europe: Description of the ESS Well-being Module and preliminary findings

  • Felicia A. Hupper

    (The Well-being Institute - Department of Psychiatry - University of Cambridge - University of Cambridge)

  • Nic Marks

    (The Centre for Well-being - New economics foundation)

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC))

  • Johannes Siegrist

    (Department of Medical Sociology - Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf - Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf)

  • Alois Stutzer

    (Department of Business and Economics - University of Basel - University of Basel)

  • Joar Vittersø

    (Institutt for Psykologi - Universitetet i Tromsø)

  • Morten Wahrendorf

    (Institut für Medizinische Soziologie - Heinrich Heine-Universität Düsseldorf)

It has become customary to judge the success of a society through the use of objective indicators, predominantly economic and social ones. Yet in most developed nations, increases in income, education and health have arguably not produced comparable increases in happiness or life satisfaction. While much has been learned from the introduction of subjective measures of global happiness or life satisfaction into surveys, significant recent progress in the development of high-quality subjective measures of personal and social well-being has not been fully exploited. This paper describes the development of a set of well- being indicators which were included in Round 3 of the European Social Survey. This well-being Module seeks to evaluate the success of European countries in promoting the personal and social well-being of their citizens. In addition to providing a better understanding of domain-specific measures, such as those relating to family, work and income, the design of the Well-being Module recognises that advancement in the field requires us to look beyond measures which focus on how people feel (happiness, pleasure, satisfaction) to measures which are more concerned with how well they function. This also shifts the emphasis from relatively transient states of well-being to measures of more sustainable well-being. The ESS Well-being Module represents one of the first systematic attempts to create a set of policy-relevant national well-being accounts.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00586267.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00586267
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  1. John Helliwell, 2007. "Well-Being and Social Capital: Does Suicide Pose a Puzzle?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 81(3), pages 455-496, May.
  2. Ed Diener, 2006. "Guidelines for National Indicators of Subjective Well-Being and Ill-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 397-404, November.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," IZA Discussion Papers 3075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Anna Lau & Robert Cummins & Wenda Mcpherson, 2005. "An Investigation into the Cross-Cultural Equivalence of the Personal Wellbeing Index," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 72(3), pages 403-430, 07.
  5. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  6. Meier, Stephan & Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," IZA Discussion Papers 1045, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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