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International Differences in Well-Being$
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Ed Diener, Daniel Kahneman, and John Helliwell

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199732739

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732739.001.0001

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Life (Evaluation), HIV/AIDS, and Death in Africa

Life (Evaluation), HIV/AIDS, and Death in Africa

Chapter:
(p.105) 5 Life (Evaluation), HIV/AIDS, and Death in Africa
Source:
International Differences in Well-Being
Author(s):

Angus Deaton (Contributor Webpage)

Jane Fortson

Robert Tortora

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732739.003.0005

This chapter uses data from the Gallup World Poll and from the Demographic and Health Surveys to investigate how subjective well-being (SWB) is affected by mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, including mortality from HIV/AIDS. The Gallup data provide direct evidence on Africans’ own emotional and evaluative responses to high levels of infection and of mortality. By comparing the effect of mortality on SWB with the effect of income on SWB, monetary values can attached to mortality to illuminate the often controversial question of how to value life in Africa. Large fractions of the respondents in the World Poll report the mortality of an immediate family member in the last twelve months, with malaria typically more important than AIDS, and deaths of women in childbirth more important than deaths from AIDS in many countries. A life evaluation measure (Cantril’s ladder of life) is relatively insensitive to the deaths of immediate family, which suggests a low value of life. There are much larger effects on experiential measures, such as sadness and depression, which suggest much larger values of life. It is not clear whether either of these results is correct, yet the results here demonstrate that experiential and evaluative measures are not the same thing, and that they cannot be used interchangeably as measures of “happiness” in welfare economics.

Keywords:   subjective well-being, HIV/AIDS, mortality, income, Africa

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