Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta
Chapter 3: New frontiers: societal measures of subjective well-being for input to policy
National accounts of subjective well-being survey citizens about their subjective well-being, including life satisfaction, positive feelings and negative feelings. The results of these surveys are meant to inform policy discussions by revealing who is flourishing and who is suffering, and understanding the circumstances associated with this. The results can help policy discussions in several ways. First, they provide metrics for assessing the value of non-market variables, such as clean air and social support. Second, the subjective well-being surveys can pinpoint which groups and regions are suffering, and help point to the potential causes of this. Third, the national accounts of well-being provide a metric for assessing subjective well-being, which is of value in itself as citizens highly value ‘happiness’. Fourth, high subjective well-being is known to have a beneficial influence on health, social relationships and work productivity. Finally, the results of subjective well-being surveys can give a broad assessment of the quality of life of societies, and point to policies that might raise well-being.
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