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Edited by Samuel Cameron
Chapter 4: Leisure and Subjective Well-being
4 Leisure and subjective well-being Victoria Ateca-Amestoy1 INTRODUCTION In September 2009, the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, a project launched by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and chaired by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, released its results with wide media coverage (Stiglitz et al., 2009). The final report identified the limitations of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress. It also sent out messages on the need to go beyond productive factors to measure economic performance and people’s actual well-being. Among those messages, it highlighted the need to measure non-market activities such as leisure or unpaid domestic work. The commission recognized the contribution of leisure to subjective wellbeing, and pointed out that ‘changes in the amount of leisure over time and differences between countries represent one of the more important aspects of the situation of well-being in these respects’ (p. 37). It singled out the importance of developing indicators of ‘both leisure quantity (number of hours) and quality (number of episodes, where they took place, presence of other people), as well as measures of participation in cultural events and of “poor leisure”’ (p. 49). The possibility of using indicators that go beyond materialistic objective measurements is not new in economics. However, economists have been reluctant to incorporate subjective outcomes into economic analysis (at least with respect to other social sciences). In an article published in 2002 in the Journal of Economic Literature, Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer present a survey under the...
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