Beyond happiness and satisfaction: Toward well-being indices based on stated preference

Daniel J. Benjamin, Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, Nichole Szembrot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


This paper proposes foundations and a methodology for survey- based tracking of well-being. First, we develop a theory in which utility depends on "fundamental aspects" of well-being, measurable with surveys. Second, drawing from psychologists, philosophers, and economists, we compile a comprehensive list of such aspects. Third, we demonstrate our proposed method for estimating the aspects' relative marginal utilities-a necessary input for constructing an individual-level well-being index-by asking ∼4,600 US survey respondents to state their preference between pairs of aspect bundles. We estimate high relative marginal utilities for aspects related to family, health, security, values, freedom, happiness, and life satisfaction. (JEL C43, C83, D12, I 31).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2698-2735
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge Drs. T. M. Hewston and M. P. Nadler of the Naval Weapons Center for obtaining the high temperature spectral measurements and Dr. R W. Schwartz, also of the Naval Weapons Center, for his helpful discussions. This work was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research. In addition, acknowledgment is made to the National Science Foundation (DMR-82-03667) for the partial supoort of K. Dwight, and the authors express their appreciation for the use of Brown University's Materials Research Laboratory which is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Funding Information:
TThhee aauutthhoorrss wwoouulldd lliikkee ttoo aacckknnoowwlleeddggee DDrrss.. TT.. MM.. HHeewwssttoonn and M. P. Nadler of the Naval WWeeaappoonnss CCeenntteerr ffoorr oobbttaaiinniinngg tthhee hhiigghh ttemepmepreartautruer es psepcetcrtarla lm emaesausruermeemnetnst sa nadn dD rD.r . RR W W.. Schwartz, aallssoo ooff tthhee NNaavvaall WWeeaappoonnss CCeenntteerr,, ffoorr hhiiss hheellppffuull ddiissccuussssiioonnss.. This work was supported inThis work was supported in ppaarrtt bbyy tthhee OOffffiiccee ooff NNaavvaall RReesseeaarrcchh.. IInn aaddddiittiioonn,, aacckknnoowwlleeddggmmeenntt is made to the National SScciieennccee FFoouunnddaattiioonn ((DDMMRR --8822--0 30636676 )7 )f ofro rthe thepartial partial supoort support of of K. K. Dwight, Dwight, and and the the authors authors eexxpprreessss tthheeiirr aapppprreecciiaattiioonn for the use of Brown University's Materials Research Laboratory wwhhiicchh iiss ssuuppppoorrtteedd bbyy tthhee NNaattiioonnaall SScciieennccee FFoouunnddaattiioonn..


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond happiness and satisfaction: Toward well-being indices based on stated preference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this