Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy: Preferences or Experiences?

Paul Dolan and Tessa Peasgood

in Law and Happiness

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226676005
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226676029 | DOI:
Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy: Preferences or Experiences?

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Policy makers seeking to enhance well-being are faced with a choice of possible measures that may offer contrasting views about how well an individual's life is going. This chapter suggests that the choice of well-being measures should be based on three general criteria: first, the measure must be conceptually appropriate (that is, measuring the right sort of concept for public policy), second, it must be valid (that is, is it a good measure of that concept), and third, it must be empirically useful (that is, does it provide information in a format that can be readily used by policy makers?). Preference-based measures are compared to experience-based measures according to these criteria. Neither set of measures meets ideal standards, but experiences do fare at least as well as preference satisfaction, and subjective evaluations perform much better than income alone as a measure of well-being.

Keywords: well-being; public policy; policy maker; subjective evaluation; income; preference satisfaction; policy making

Chapter.  9850 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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