Challenges in constructing a survey-based well-being index

Daniel J. Benjamin, Kristen B. Cooper, Ori Heffetz, Miles Kimball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


How should a survey-based measure of well-being be implemented? How could it be constructed in a systematic and politically neutral way? These questions should be approached by economists with the same level of care that has been taken in the theoretical and practical development of GDP. We focus on two essential requirements for implementation: formulating a list of different aspects of well-being that is theoretically valid and can be measured accurately via surveys, and choosing and interpreting the survey response scales. We discuss progress to date on these issues, remaining challenges, and some possible approaches to overcoming them.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for NIH/NIA grants R01-AG040787 to the University of Michigan and R01-AG051903 to the University of Southern California, and to the Michigan Institute for Teaching and Research in Economics for financial support; to Alberto Bisin, Angus Deaton, Marc Fleurbaey, and Arthur Stone for helpful comments and discussion; and to Tuan Anh Viet Nguyen, Rebecca Royer, and Robbie Strom for outstanding research assistance.


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