49 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2012 Last revised: 20 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 12, 2013
This paper proposes foundations and a methodology for survey-based tracking of well-being. First, we develop 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, we demonstrate our proposed method for estimating the aspects’ relative marginal utilities — a necessary input for constructing an individual-level well-being index — by asking ~4,600 U.S. survey respondents to state their preference between pairs of aspect bundles. We estimate high relative marginal utilities not only for happiness and life satisfaction, but also for aspects related to family, health, security, values, and freedoms.
Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, stated preference, well-being index
JEL Classification: A13, D69, E01, I31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Benjamin, Daniel J. and Heffetz, Ori and Kimball, Miles S. and Szembrot, Nichole, Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference (December 12, 2013). American Economic Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2120784 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2120784