Our subjective well-being deserves policy attention too
We need to go beyond objective economic measures and also weigh people’s self-perceptions of well-being as we formulate policy. It matters whether people see themselves as better off.
A study reveals that factors such as age, caste, schooling and social affiliations tend to influence how Indians evaluate the quality of their lives. Such findings can guide our approach.
George Bernard Shaw was often right but always witty and provocative. He wrote, “The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation" (Misalliance, 1910). Perhaps, but it is not the only important reason for well-being. Economists’ overriding concern for objective measures of well-being, defined in terms of real income, has been questioned by Kahneman, Deaton (both Nobel laureates) and others.