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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful for NIH/NIA grant R01-AG051903 to the University of Southern California for financial support.
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