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Does Money Buy Me Love? Testing Alternative Measures of National Wellbeing

  • Arthur Grimes

    ()

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and University of Auckland)

  • les Oxley

    ()

    (University of Waikato)

  • Nicholas Tarrant

    ()

Many aggregate measures of wellbeing and sustainability exist to guide policy-makers. However, the power of these aggregate measures to predict objective wellbeing outcomes has received little comparative testing. We compile and compare a range of aggregate wellbeing measures including: material measures (e.g. Gross Domestic Product per capita), surveyed measures (e.g. life satisfaction) and composite measures (e.g. Human Development Index) covering a range of countries. We test the predictive power of wellbeing measures for an objective indicator of how people value countries’ relative attractiveness. The objective indicator is net migration over a fifty year timespan, indicating people’s revealed preference (re)location choices. The paper examines relationships amongst cross-country wellbeing and sustainability measures; and examines how New Zealand compares with other countries according to these measures. Based on models of spatial (dis)equilibrium and migration, we present tests of the predictive power of alternative aggregate measures for international migration outcomes. We find that both material and life satisfaction outcomes are important determinants of the choice to migrate.

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File URL: http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/12_09.pdf
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Paper provided by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 12_09.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:12_09
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  1. Philip McCann & Jacques Poot & Lynda Sanderson, 2008. "Migration, Relationship Capital and International Travel: Theory and Evidence," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0808, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  2. Ferreira, Susana & Vincent, Jeffrey R, 2005. "Genuine Savings: Leading Indicator of Sustainable Development?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 737-54, April.
  3. Abdallah, Saamah & Thompson, Sam & Marks, Nic, 2008. "Estimating worldwide life satisfaction," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 35-47, March.
  4. Susana Ferreira & Kirk Hamilton & Jeffrey R. Vincent, 2008. "Comprehensive Wealth and Future Consumption: Accounting for Population Growth," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(2), pages 233-248, May.
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