The Desirability of Well-Being as a Guide for Policy
Several conceptual concerns about using well-being measures to inform policy have been enunciated, and are discussed in this chapter. It is shown that well-being does not reflect a shallow form of hedonism, but instead reflects a desirable state that helps societies function more effectively. A related objection is that immoral behaviors that society cannot condone might sometimes lead to feelings of well-being. One answer to many of these objections is that both objective and subjective measures will be used in concert; that is, subjective measures will not replace the objective ones. This recognition undercuts many of the objections that have been raised. Some believe that policy makers might manipulate well-being, or, conversely, that citizens might alter their well-being responses to influence policy, and these critiques are discussed. Another issue is which types of well-being measures should be used, and it is argued that surveys should assess a number of different types of well-being.
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