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Alternative Measures of Well-Being

  • Romina Boarini
  • Åsa Johansson
  • Marco Mira d'Ercole
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    All discussions about the desirability of policy reforms rest on judgements about their effects on individuals and societal well-being. Yet, suitable measures for assessing how well-being is changing over time or compares across countries are lacking. This problem is, of course, not new and standard economic theory has provided, over the years, a range of insights about the criteria and domains that are most critical for the measurement of well-being, and on the relation between well-being and measures of economic resources. This paper does not revisit this theoretical discussion, nor does it provide a comprehensive review of different approaches to the measurement of well-being. It rather assesses whether GDP per capita is an adequate proxy as a measure of well-being or whether other indicators — used either as substitutes or as complements to GDP per capita — are more suitable for that purpose. Attention is limited to only some of the factors that influence well-being, and excludes some critical elements such as the environment, home production and other non-market factors. Tous les débats sur l'opportunité des réformes reposent sur des considérations relatives à leurs impacts sur le bien-être des individus et de la société. Pour autant, des mesures appropriées font défaut pour mesurer l'évolution du bien-être au fil du temps ou effectuer des comparaisons entre pays. Ce problème n'est, bien sûr, pas nouveau et la théorie économique fourni un éventail d'idées sur les critères et les domaines qui sont les plus importants pour mesurer le bien-être, ainsi que sur la relation entre le bienêtre et les mesures des ressources économiques. Ce document ne revient pas sur ce débat théorique et n'apporte pas non plus un examen exhaustif des différentes approches sur les mesures du bien-être. Son objectif, plus limité, est celui d'évaluer si le PIB par habitant peut être considéré comme une mesure adéquate du bien-être ou si d'autres indicateurs - utilisés comme substituts ou comme compléments au PIB par habitant - seraient plus appropriés. Seuls quelques-uns des éléments qui influent sur le bien-être seront examinés dans cette étude, tandis que d'autres facteurs importants tels que l'environnement, la production domestique et les autres productions non marchandes seront laissés de coté.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 33.

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    Date of creation: 17 Feb 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:33-en
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