OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being
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OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being

Being able to measure people’s quality of life is fundamental when assessing the progress of societies. There is now widespread acknowledgement that measuring subjective well-being is an essential part of measuring quality of life alongside other social and economic dimensions. As a first step to improving the measures of quality of life, the OECD has produced Guidelines which provide advice on the collection and use of measures of subjective well-being.  These Guidelines have been produced as part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, a pioneering project launched in 2011, with the objective to measure society’s progress across eleven domains of well-being, ranging from jobs, health and housing, through to civic engagement and the environment.

These Guidelines represent the first attempt to provide international recommendations on collecting, publishing, and analysing subjective well-being data. They provide guidance on collecting information on people's evaluations and experiences of life, as well as on collecting "eudaimonic" measures of psychological well-being. The Guidelines also outline why measures of subjective well-being are relevant for monitoring and policy making, and why national statistical agencies have a critical role to play in enhancing the usefulness of existing measures. They identify the best approaches for measuring, in a reliable and consistent way, the various dimensions of subjective well-being, and provide guidance for reporting on such measures. The Guidelines also include a number of prototype survey modules on subjective well-being that national and international agencies can use in their surveys.

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Notions of subjective well-being or happiness have a long tradition as central elements of quality of life, but until very recently these concepts were generally deemed beyond the scope of statistical measurement. Over the last two decades, however, an increasing body of evidence has shown that subjective well-being can be measured in surveys, that such measures are valid and reliable, and that they can usefully inform policy-making. This evidence has been reflected in an exponential growth in the economic literature on measures of subjective well-being.During the 1990s there was an average of less than five articles on happiness or related subjects each year in the journals covered by the Econlit database. By 2008 this had risen to over fifty.

 
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