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Measuring and Using Happiness to Support Public Policies

John F. Helliwell

NBER Working Paper No. 26529
Issued in December 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics, Political Economy

This paper summarizes the philosophical and empirical grounds for giving a primary role to the evaluations that people make of the quality of their lives. These evaluations permit comparisons among communities, regions, nations and population subgroups, enable the estimation of the relative importance of various sources of happiness, and provide a well-being lens to aid the choice of public policies to support well-being. Available results expose the primacy of social determinants of happiness, and especially the power of generosity and other positive social connections to improve the levels, distribution and sustainability of well-being.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26529

 
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