Policy ForumPSYCHOLOGY AND ECONOMICS

Progress in measuring subjective well-being

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 42-43
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256392

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Summary

Progress in science requires new tools for measuring phenomena previously believed unmeasurable, as well as conceptual frameworks for interpreting such measurements. There has been much progress on both fronts in the measurement of subjective well-being (SWB), which “refers to how people experience and evaluate their lives and specific domains and activities in their lives” (1). In 2009, the Sarkozy Commission recommended adding SWB measures as supplements to existing indicators of societal progress such as gross domestic product (GDP). In light of subsequent activity by governments and international organizations, we summarize several important advances and highlight key remaining methodological challenges that must be addressed to develop a credible national indicator of SWB and to incorporate SWB into official statistics and policy decisions.