Measuring Well-being Across Europe: Description of the ESS Well-being Module and Preliminary Findings
- 2.6k Downloads
It has become customary to judge the success of a society through the use of objective indicators, predominantly economic and social ones. Yet in most developed nations, increases in income, education and health have arguably not produced comparable increases in happiness or life satisfaction. While much has been learned from the introduction of subjective measures of global happiness or life satisfaction into surveys, significant recent progress in the development of high-quality subjective measures of personal and social well-being has not been fully exploited. This article describes the development of a set of well-being indicators which were included in Round 3 of the European Social Survey. This Well-being Module seeks to evaluate the success of European countries in promoting the personal and social well-being of their citizens. In addition to providing a better understanding of domain-specific measures, such as those relating to family, work and income, the design of the Well-being Module recognises that advancement in the field requires us to look beyond measures which focus on how people feel (happiness, pleasure, satisfaction) to measures which are more concerned with how well they function. This also shifts the emphasis from relatively transient states of well-being to measures of more sustainable well-being. The ESS Well-being Module represents one of the first systematic attempts to create a set of policy-relevant national well-being accounts.
KeywordsWell-being Happiness Policy Subjective well-being National accounts Cross national survey
We are grateful to Anne Gadermann and Dr. A. C. Plagnol for assistance with data analysis, and to an anonymous referee for useful suggestions. Thanks also to Drs. Rosemary Abbott, Daniel Johnson, Gabrielle Osborne and to Julie Aston for editorial assistance.
- Brown, S. L. (2003). An altruistic reanalysis of the social support hypothesis: The health benefits of giving. In New directions for philanthropic fundraising. Chapter 4, No. 42 (pp. 49–57). Wiley Periodicals Inc. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/107629291/abstract.
- Cummins, R. A. (1997). The Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale—Adult (ComQol-A5) (5th ed.). Melbourne: School of Psychology, Deakin University.Google Scholar
- Donovan, N., & Halpern, D. (2002). Life satisfaction: The state of knowledge and the implications for government (Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit). (http://www.strategy.gov.uk/2001/futures/attachments/ls/paper.pdf).
- Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affect human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Goldberg, D. P. (1978). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J., & Putnam, R. D. (2005). The social context of well-being. In F. A. Huppert, B. Keverne & N. Baylis (Eds.), The science of well-being (pp. 435–459). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Science, 3 December, 1776–1780.Google Scholar
- Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. London: Penguin books.Google Scholar
- Marks, N., & Shah, H. (2005). A well-being manifesto for a flourishing society. In F. Huppert, N. Baylis & B. Keverne (Eds.), The science of well-being. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Meier, S., & Stutzer, A. (2008). Is volunteering rewarding in itself? Economica, 75, 39–59.Google Scholar
- Plagnol, A. C., & Huppert, F. A. (submitted). Happy to help? Exploring the factors associated with variations in rates of volunteering across Europe.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. The collapse and revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfilment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Random House Inc.Google Scholar
- Singleton, N., Bumpstead, R., O’Brien, M., Lee, A., & Meltzer, H. (2001). Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households, 2000. London: TSO (The Stationery Office).Google Scholar
- Steffick, D. E. (2000). Documentation of affective functioning measures in the Health and Retirement Study. HRS/AHEAD Documentation Report. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Survey Research Center, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
- Vittersø, J., Öhlman, H. I., & Wang, A. L. (in press). Life satisfaction is not a balanced estimator of the good life: Evidence from reaction time measures and self-reported emotions. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi 10.1007/s10902-007-9058-1.