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Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference

49 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2012  

Daniel J. Benjamin

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ori Heffetz

Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Miles S. Kimball

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; University of Colorado Boulder; Center for Economic and Social Research, USC; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nichole Szembrot

Trinity College

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2012

Abstract

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.

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 (September 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18374. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2147085

Daniel J. Benjamin (Contact Author)

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Ori Heffetz

Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

324 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL 91905
Israel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~heffetz

Miles S. Kimball

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2375 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.492.8295 (Phone)
303.492.8960 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.colorado.edu/Economics/people/faculty/kimball.html

Center for Economic and Social Research, USC ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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