Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference
Daniel J. Benjamin
Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management
Miles S. Kimball
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Cornell University - Department of Economics
August 31, 2012
This paper helps provide foundations for survey-based tracking of well-being. First, we propose a theory in which utility depends on “fundamental aspects” of well-being, measurable with surveys. Second, drawing from psychologists, philosophers, and economists, we compile a comprehensive list of such aspects. Third, to estimate the aspects’ marginal utilities — a necessary input for constructing an individual-level well-being index — we conduct a survey in which ~4,600 U.S. respondents state their preference between pairs of aspect bundles. We estimate high relative marginal utilities not only for traditional happiness and life satisfaction measures, but even more for aspects related to family, health, security, values, and freedoms.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, stated preference, well-being index
JEL Classification: A13, D69, E01, I31working papers series
Date posted: July 31, 2012 ; Last revised: September 3, 2012
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