Using subjective well-being to complement other outcome measures Introduction

Subjective well-being is an essential element of a broader and multi-dimensional concept of human well-being and can be used in the context of monitoring reports on the living conditions of different countries or sub-national units. Indicators of interest will include the overall level of subjective well-being, its rate of change over time and its distribution across different groups within society. This section is organised in three parts. The first part addresses what is meant by “measuring well-being” and briefly discusses how subjective well-being can contribute in this area. This includes outlining what subjective well-being data can add to more conventional measures and why subjective well-being might be considered an important outcome in its own right. The second part focuses on reporting measures of subjective well-being. This examines the relative merits of a number of different approaches to summarising and describing subjective well-being data. The section concludes with discussion of the issues arising in analyses that aim to compare different levels of subjective well-being. This includes consideration of how to interpret observed differences between groups, over time and between different countries - including when there may be a risk of cultural “bias” in the data.

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