New South Wales Branch

Carol Graham, Bentham or Aristotle in the Census Bureau?

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What the New Science of Well-being Contributes to Economics and to Policy

The measurement and study of well-being has gone from the fringes of economics – and other social sciences – to the mainstream. Indeed, the metrics are now being incorporated into official national statistics in many countries, ranging from the U.K. to Chile to (possibly) the United States. The lecture will first review the approach and the consistent patterns that it yields in the standard determinants of well-being around the world, as well as the kinds of research and policy questions that the metrics can inform. It will highlight the importance of measuring two distinct well-being dimensions – hedonic and evaluative, as the former captures daily moods and experiences, while the latter is a better gauge of individuals’ views of their lives as a whole, as well as their differential capacities to make choices in those lives. The author’s latest research focuses on a beliefs and behaviors channel associated with agency and expectations, and provide examples from her latest findings on inequality, lack of hope, and premature mortality rates in the United States.


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