Current Trends in Welfare Measurement

THE ELGAR COMPANION TO RECENT ECONOMIC METHODOLOGY, John B. Davis, D. Wade Hands, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010

51 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2010 Last revised: 4 Jul 2011

See all articles by Erik Angner

Erik Angner

Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University; Institute for Futures Studies; Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Date Written: September 20, 2010

Abstract

The rise of subjective measures of well-being represents at least two important trends in the measurement of welfare or well-being. The first trend, which has already received some attention in the literature, is a shift away from preference-satisfaction accounts of individual well-being and toward mental-state accounts. The second trend, which has gone largely unnoticed, is a shift away from the measurement-theoretic (or representational) approach to measurement and toward the psychometric approach. In this chapter, I will argue that whereas orthodox economic welfare measures are based on the measurement-theoretic approach, subjective measures are based on the psychometric approach. The difference helps explain why subjective measures are based on questionnaire data, while orthodox economic measures are based on observable choices; why proponents of subjective measures validate their measures by establishing construct validity, reliability, and so on, whereas orthodox economists tend to establish that a particular function is a utility function; why orthodox economists’ approach to welfare measurement strikes proponents of subjective measures as terribly inadequate, and vice versa; and why subjective measures are based on mental-state accounts, whereas orthodox economic measures are based on preference-satisfaction accounts of well-being. This trend constitutes a radical methodological shift, which is likely to have a significant impact on the shape of welfare economics and on the public policy it informs, and could generate novel and interesting avenues of research.

Keywords: Welfare, Measurement, Happiness

JEL Classification: B2, B4, D6

Suggested Citation

Angner, Erik, Current Trends in Welfare Measurement (September 20, 2010). THE ELGAR COMPANION TO RECENT ECONOMIC METHODOLOGY, John B. Davis, D. Wade Hands, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1680053

Erik Angner (Contact Author)

Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10 D
Frescati
Stockholm, 106 91
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://erikangner.com

Institute for Futures Studies ( email )

Holländargatan 13
Stockholm, SE-101 31
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.iffs.se/en/research/researchers/erik-angner-1/

Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science ( email )

400P Truland Building
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ices.gmu.edu/people/affiliated-faculty

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
167
Abstract Views
1,484
rank
182,650
PlumX Metrics