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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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Defining Well-Being

Defining Well-Being

Chapter:
(p.8) Chapter 2 Defining Well-Being
Source:
Well-Being for Public Policy
Author(s):

Ed Diener

Richard E. Lucas

Ulrich Schimmack

John F. Helliwell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334074.003.0002

This chapter reviews the various definitions of well-being, and their advantages and disadvantages. Well-being is defined as an overall evaluation that an individual makes of his or her life in all its important aspects, and is often called “subjective well-being.” This definition is contrasted with objective evaluations, which require judgments that are independent of an individual’s values and desires. The definition of well-being advanced in this book is based on an individual’s own interests, needs, preferences, and desires, and is therefore similar to the concept of “utility” in economics. The well-being indicators advocated here include both people’s judgments of their lives and their emotions and moods. The differences in preference realization reflected in economic indicators and subjective reports of well-being are described, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are reviewed.

Keywords:   preferences, subjective evaluation, subjective well-being, utility, well-being

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