Measures of Subjective Well-being for Public Policy

An inter-disciplinary international conference on “Measures of Subjective Well-being for Public Policy” took place at the University of Leeds, 13-15 July, 2012.

As the organisers explained:

The conference aimed to bring together philosophers and non-philosophers – from psychologists and sociologists to economists and public policy practitioners – to discuss the philosophical foundations of the use of measures of subjective well-being in public policy. There are many philosophical issues involved in such a practice, which have so far been relatively unexplored. These include:

How do measures of subjective well-being relate to philosophical accounts of happiness and well-being?

Are subjective well-being measures valid and prudentially relevant, and are they intra- and inter-personally comparable?

How do measures of subjective well-being relate to other measures of well-being, such as GDP? Can we compare these different kinds of measures?

How can and should measures of subjective well-being be used to monitor progress, inform policy design, and appraise policy?

Do such measures lead towards a new kind of political utilitarianism?

These issues have been largely unexplored in part because of the lack of dialogue between philosophers and non-philosophers working on the role of subjective well-being in public policy. This conference sought to bridge that gap, offering an opportunity to promote inter-disciplinary dialogue on how well-being research might best be applied to policy-making.

The presentations were filmed, and are now available to view here on You Tube

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