User needs

Understanding user needs involves understanding the key policy and research questions that the user is trying to address. While it is not possible in this chapter to give a full discussion of all possible user needs for subjective well-being data, some general questions can be articulated:

  • • Are the user needs related to one of the general policy uses for subjective well-being data described in Chapter 1?
  • • What are the policy questions?
  • • Is the subjective wellbeing content being proposed appropriate to respond to the policy questions? Is the content proposed sensitive to monitoring changes over time or between population groups?
  • • What population groups are of interest to the user? For example, is the focus on international comparisons (making countries the key unit of analysis), the same population at different points in time (for time series analysis), or different sub-groups of the same population (such as age, sex, location or ethnicity)? This will have implications both for sampling and for the types of measure that are most appropriate.

In the case of cross-country comparisons, measures with good cross-cultural reliability will be most important, while for analysis of groups within a country low respondent burden may be a more important consideration in order to allow a larger sample size.

  • • Does the user’s interest lie in comparing outcomes of different groups or in understanding the relationship between different aspects of subjective well-being? In the first case, a relatively narrow range of subjective well-being measures may suffice, while in the latter case more detail on a range of co-variates is likely to be necessary.
  • • Is the user’s primary interest in overall subjective well-being (captured by summary measures of life evaluation, affect or eudaimonic well-being) or in a specific dimension of subjective well-being (such as satisfaction with income or satisfaction with work/life balance)? Are other measures of well-being more appropriate?
  • • What are the frequency requirements of the users to monitor changes over time?
  • • What within-country comparisons are required, such as geographic level?

A thorough understanding of user needs should allow the identification of one or more clear research questions that the project should address.

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