Core measures of subjective well-being

Core measures of subjective well-being are those for which international comparability is the highest priority. These are measures for which there is the most evidence of validity and relevance, for which the results are best understood, and for which policy uses are most developed. Although the guidelines are intended to support producers of measures of subjective well-being rather than being overly prescriptive, the core measures proposed here are quite specific in content and collection method.

The core measures outlined in this chapter consist of five questions. The first is a primary measure and is intended to be collected consistently across countries. The primary measure should be regarded as the highest priority for national statistical agencies and should be the first question included in surveys where the measurement of subjective well-being is considered. The additional three affect questions in the core are also important and should be collected where possible. However, it is recognised that not all national statistical offices will be able to collect these measures in their core surveys. Finally, an experimental eudaimonic question is attached, picking up the element of eudaimonia for which there is the most evidence of relevance.

Beyond articulating a suite of core measures, the main goal of this chapter is to provide general advice to data providers. In particular, the chapter is intended to support national statistical agencies and other data providers in the process of deciding what to measure and how to implement the measurement process most effectively. While models are provided for specific questions, the chapter aims to provide options and advice rather than directions.

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