• Mark D. White


Over the last two chapters, we’ve examined a number of approaches to measuring well-being, from the standard but maligned gross domestic product, to more recent calls for an accounting of happiness, and finally to the economists’ favorite, preference satisfaction. We saw that each has its own specific problems in conception, practice, and policy, but one thing they all share is that they define well-being for the people whose well-being is being measured. This is no problem for advocates of objective versions of well-being, who normally make no claim to any level of subjectivity—though we’ll see there are exceptions to this—but this limits how deeply subjective measures like happiness and preference satisfaction can be. These measures depend on people to report their feelings or choices, which is subjective, but they do not leave people free to define their own conception of well-being—that’s up to the researchers, who decide whether they are measuring hedonic pleasure, life satisfaction, or preferences. In short, these measures are assessed subjectively but defined objectively.


Objective Theory Behavioral Economist Moral Rule Preference Ranking Libertarian Paternalism 
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© Mark D. White 2014

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