Self-reported wellbeing indicators are a valuable complement to traditional economic indicators but are not yet ready to compete with them

D. A.N. Benjamin, Kristen Cooper, O. R.I. Heffetz*, Miles Kimball

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

We join the call for governments to routinely collect survey-based measures of self-reported wellbeing and for researchers to study them. We list a number of challenges that have to be overcome in order for these measures to eventually achieve a status that is competitive with traditional economic indicators. We discuss in more detail one of the challenges, comprehensiveness: single-question wellbeing measures do not seem to fully capture what people care about. We briefly review the existing evidence, suggesting that survey respondents, when asked to make real or hypothetical trade-offs, would not always choose to maximize their predicted response to single-question wellbeing measures. The deviations appear systematic, and they persist under conditions where alternative explanations are less plausible. We also review an approach for combining single-question measures into a more comprehensive wellbeing index - an approach that itself is not free of ongoing theoretical and implementational challenges, but that we view as a promising direction.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Public Policy
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020.

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