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Subjective Well-Being as Welfare Measure: Concepts and Methodology

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  • Fischer, Justina AV

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Subjective Well-Being as Welfare Measure: Concepts and Methodology," MPRA Paper 16619, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16619
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/16619/1/MPRA_paper_16619.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Justina A. V. Fischer & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2008. "Personality, Job Satisfaction and Health - The Mediating Influence of Affectivity," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 144(III), pages 379-435, September.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Hypertension and happiness across nations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 218-233, March.
    3. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson & Norman J. Johnson, 2013. "Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1480-1500, December.
    4. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "Happiness and age cycles – return to start…," MPRA Paper 15249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Ateca-Amestoy, Victoria & Serrano-del-Rosal, Rafael & Vera-Toscano, Esperanza, 2008. "The leisure experience," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 64-78, February.
    6. Courard-Hauri, David, 2007. "Using Monte Carlo analysis to investigate the relationship between overconsumption and uncertain access to one's personal utility function," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 152-162, October.
    7. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2008. "Direct democracy and life satisfaction revisited: new evidence for Switzerland," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 227-255, June.
    8. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    9. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    10. Ruut Veenhoven, 2000. "The Four Qualities of Life," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-39, March.
    11. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
    12. Willem Saris & Theresia van Wijk & Annette Scherpenzeel, 1998. "Validity and Reliability of Subjective Social Indicators: The effect of different measures of association," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 173-199, November.
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    1. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9773-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2012. "Pain at the pump: Gasoline prices and subjective well-being," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 160-175.
    3. Bjornskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina AV & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2009. "On the relation between income inequality and happiness: Do fairness perceptions matter?," MPRA Paper 19494, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V. & Schnellenbach, Jan & Gehring, Kai, 2013. "Inequality and happiness: When perceived social mobility and economic reality do not match," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 75-92.
    5. Justina AV Fischer, 2010. "Accounting for Unobserved Country Heterogeneity in Happiness Research: Country Fixed Effects versus Region Fixed Effects," CEIS Research Paper 164, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
    6. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2010. "Formal institutions and subjective well-being: Revisiting the cross-country evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 419-430, December.
    7. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "SWB as a Measure of Individual Well-Being," PSE Working Papers halshs-01134483, HAL.
    8. Dedehouanou, Senakpon & Maertens, Miet, 2011. "Participation in Modern Agri-Food Supply Chain in Senegal and Happiness," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114447, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. Tineke DeJonge & Ruut Veenhoven & Wim Kalmijn & Lidia Arends, 2016. "Pooling Time Series Based on Slightly Different Questions About the Same Topic Forty Years of Survey Research on Happiness and Life Satisfaction in The Netherlands," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(2), pages 863-891, March.
    10. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M. & Ifcher, John & Zarghamee, Homa, 2013. "The Earned Income Tax Credit, Health, and Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 7261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "SWB as a Measure of Individual Well-Being," Working Papers halshs-01134483, HAL.
    12. Kant, Shashi & Vertinsky, Ilan & Zheng, Bin & Smith, Peggy M., 2014. "Multi-Domain Subjective Wellbeing of Two Canadian First Nations Communities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 140-157.
    13. Herbst, Chris M., 2011. "‘Paradoxical’ decline? Another look at the relative reduction in female happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 773-788.
    14. Christian Scheve & Frederike Esche & Jürgen Schupp, 2017. "The Emotional Timeline of Unemployment: Anticipation, Reaction, and Adaptation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1231-1254, August.
    15. Senakpon F. A. Dedehouanou & Johan Swinnen & Miet Maertens, 2013. "Does Contracting Make Farmers Happy? Evidence from Senegal," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 138-160, October.
    16. Fischer, Justina AV, 2009. "The Welfare Effects of Social Mobility: An Analysis for OECD countries," MPRA Paper 17070, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Life Satisfaction; Subjective Well-Being; Concepts; Methodology; Measurement; Econometrics; History; Behavioral Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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