, Volume 5, Issue 1-4, pp 457-474

Subjective evaluation of well-being: Problems and prospects

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Abstract

This paper discusses some of the substantive and methodological pitfalls that arise in the subjective evaluation of well-being. The discussion includes illustrative references to the empirical findings of the 1977 Edmonton Area Study. Issues discussed include (1) specific, domain, and global measures; (2) objective states and subjective perceptions; (3) micro and macro units of analysis; and (4) the problem of cultural relativism. It is concluded that it is not yet possible to delineate a simple set of social indicators for use by policy-makers and social planners. Accurate assessment of social well-being currently requires the study of demographic and objective states together with cognitive and evaluational responses and also requires assessment not only at the global ‘general satisfaction’ level but also at more specific levels of analysis.

The authors are indebted to Earle Snider for his useful comments on our discussion.