That Which Makes Life Worthwhile

Edited by George Loewenstein

in Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226454566
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226454573 | DOI:
That Which Makes Life Worthwhile

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This chapter focuses on the idea that what makes life worthwhile is not captured by moment to moment happiness, but is absent from National Time Accounting (NTA), namely people's general sense of satisfaction or fulfillment with their lives as a whole, apart from moment to moment feelings. The author here illustrates this point in a number of ways, perhaps by pointing to his father's experience in a French prisoner of war camp during World War II. According to the author, the greatest strength of NTA is that it evaluates well-being in terms of how people actually use their time. The main limitation of NTA is its focus on happiness, which elevates a particular hedonic feeling to an all important role at the expense of a wide range of other things, such as meaning, wisdom, and values. The specific implementation is also problematic because it discards valuable information while not really achieving the interpersonal comparability.

Keywords: moment happiness; National Time Accounting; NTA; satisfaction; moment feelings; well-being; hedonic feeling; interpersonal comparability

Chapter.  8845 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

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