A Happiness and Objective Well-Being Index (HOW-IS-IL) for Living and Working in the State of Illinois, 2016-17

36 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Lonnie Golden

Lonnie Golden

Pennsylvania State University - Abington College; Economic Policy Institute; Project for Middle Class Renewal

Date Written: May 31, 2017


An inaugural index is introduced to measure and track the well-being and happiness of Illinois’ citizens and workers. It draws on existing indicators and the happiness and well-being research literature. Similar to other such indexes, that quantify both objective and subjective well-being indicators, it contains 8 domains, but intentionally has more emphasis on measuring both the temperature and the climate for work and labor, and associated public policies. Each of the 8 categories has 10 components, from which an average is created for a composite figure. The HOW-IS-IL features the following domains:

• Economy and Material Well Being. • Labor Market Performance. • Job Quality/Working Conditions (“Decent Work”). • Work-Life Balance and Uses of Time. • Mental/Psychological/Community/Social/Political, Health. • A Meta Ranking from available composite indicators. • The final two domains are intended to capture the “Worker-Friendliness” climate of the state, including employment laws and general commitment to human capital investment.

The key findings are that Illinois ranks at the median among the 50 states. It would improve both its absolute and relative quality of life and work if:

• The median household experiences continued gains in income, economic and employment activity and income distribution becomes less concentrated at the top of the income scale; • The labor market delivers lower unemployment and underemployment rates and hourly earnings disparity, while continuing to create more jobs than are destroyed; • Workplace practices and policies deliver more security regarding health, retirement and paid time off; • Part time and overtime working continues to be more voluntary than involuntary in nature, along with more daily schedule flexibility and restrained time spent commuting, to curb the increasing rate of work-family conflict in the region; • K-12 and higher education investments were equitable and increased. Adopting both private and public policies that enhance health benefit coverage and political system reforms would lift workers’ well-being. Also the implementation of at least seven worker-friendly policies and protections would convert Illinois from being follower to leader in the quest for improved job quality and lift Illinois into the top half of states for living and working in the United States.

Keywords: Happiness; Middle Class; Well-Being; Employment Trends

JEL Classification: J21; J22; I31; J31

Suggested Citation

Golden, Lonnie, A Happiness and Objective Well-Being Index (HOW-IS-IL) for Living and Working in the State of Illinois, 2016-17 (May 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044508 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044508

Lonnie Golden (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Abington College ( email )

1600 Woodland Rd.
Abington, PA 19001
United States
215-881-7596 (Phone)
215-881-7333 (Fax)

Economic Policy Institute ( email )

1660 L Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Project for Middle Class Renewal ( email )

1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

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