Subjective Well-Being as Welfare Measure: Concepts and Methodology
Happiness research is on the rise, but is confounded by competing definitions of subjective well-being based on co-existing concepts, resulting in differing measures and giving rise to different potential policy applications. This paper motivates the societal necessity for using well-being indicators and gives a short overview of the relation between the concepts ‘subjective well-being’, ‘affect’, ‘life satisfaction’, and ‘happiness’. It describes their measurements and operationalizations in surveys, illustrates their philosophical roots, discusses their validity and reliability, and attempts to shed light on the scope of their policy applicability. Focus of this paper is on practical issues when applying measures of subjective well-being for policy evaluations. Target audiences of this paper are the interested public and laypersons, non-expert economists, and statisticians.
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