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Well-Being for Public Policy$
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Ed Diener, Richard Lucas, Ulrich Schimmack, and John Helliwell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195334074

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334074.001.0001

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The Social Context of Well-Being: Policy Examples

The Social Context of Well-Being: Policy Examples

(p.175) Chapter 11 The Social Context of Well-Being: Policy Examples
Well-Being for Public Policy

Ed Diener

Richard E. Lucas

Ulrich Schimmack

John F. Helliwell

Oxford University Press

Humans are social animals, and well-being therefore depends greatly on the quality of their social world. The idea of “social capital” is the claim that societies have a valuable resource in social relationships that are characterized by trust and trustworthiness, by collaboration and cooperation, and by a broad concern about helping the group. On the flip side, social capital is reduced by corruption and crime. The social capital of societies is linked to their health and well-being, and policies that undercut social capital can be disastrous even if they further other types of goals. By tracking both social capital and well-being, policy makers can create better regulations that increase social well-being rather than interfere with it. Well-being measures also provide a method of measuring the value of public services. An example for evaluating the outcomes of a social experiment—a program in Canada to reduce unemployment by assessing well-being before and after the program intervention—has been provided.

Keywords:   cooperation, corruption, crime, experimentation, intervention, relationships, social capital, trust

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