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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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Limitations of Economic and Social Indicators

Limitations of Economic and Social Indicators

(p.23) Chapter 3 Limitations of Economic and Social Indicators
Well-Being for Public Policy

Ed Diener

Richard E. Lucas

Ulrich Schimmack

John F. Helliwell

Oxford University Press

Economically developed societies devote considerable resources to collecting economic and social indicators to help policy makers in their deliberations about how to best increase quality of life. These measures have had notable successes, and yet they suffer from substantial limitations. The reasons that economic and social indicators cannot reflect the full range of factors that affect quality of life are described. For example, no complete list of factors affecting quality of life can be created, and the way people weight these factors differs. Furthermore, it is often not clear which set of measures best reflects desirable states in various areas such as the economy. In the context of the economy, there is disagreement about which forms of goods and services need to be counted, for example whether housework should be part of the gross domestic product (GDP). Because of the shortcomings of economic and social indicators, additional information is required for wide policy making.

Keywords:   economic indicators, GDP (gross domestic product), policy, policy makers, quality of life, social indicators

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