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A "happiness test" for the new measures of national well-being: how much better than GDP are they?

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Delhey, Jan; Kroll, Christian

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Corporate Editor Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH
Abstract Across the globe there is growing skepticism about the usefulness of GDP as a measure of national well-being. Consequently, several alternative quality-of-life (QOL) measures were developed which either aim at healing the GDP, complementing it, or replacing it. This chapter portrays some of these new measures and puts them to a happiness test: compared to the GDP, are the new QOL measures better able to capture what makes people happy and satisfied with their lives? Using data for 34 OECD societies, we can show that from a happiness perspective, there is-surprisingly-little wrong with the GDP, and most alternative QOL measures do not outperform GDP. Yet, one measure actually does a better job: the OECD's Better Life Index which is particularly effective when it comes to predicting subjective well-being in the richest OECD countries. In sum, the chapter demonstrates that a happiness perspective can add important insights along the way to facilitate the search for a new, widely accepted, internationally comparable measure of well-being. (author's abstract)
Keywords happiness; satisfaction with life; well-being; quality of life; indicator; measurement; social indicators; national product; criticism; OECD
Classification General Sociology, Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Sociology, Sociological Theories
Free Keywords Better Life Index; Human Development Index
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
City Berlin
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series Discussion Papers / Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Forschungsschwerpunkt Arbeit, Sozialstruktur und Sozialstaat, Abteilung Ungleichheit und soziale Integration, SP I 2012-201
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications