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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Happiness data have an important role in policy. They can be used to monitor social progress over time in the same way that GDP figures are currently used. They can also be used in the subjective well-being valuation (SWV) approach to value nonmarket goods for the purposes of cost-benefit analysis, the primary policy evaluation tool in many governments. This chapter focuses on the latter of these two uses of happiness surveys, where a significant literature has grown over the last decade. It discusses the main problems associated with traditional valuation methods that rely on people’s preferences and the ways in which it has been suggested that SWV can overcome some of these difficulties. SWV also has its problems, and the chapter discusses these, provides suggestions for how results from SWV should be interpreted, and highlights where solutions to the problems in the SWV method have been proposed in the literature.

Keywords: subjective well-being, nonmarket valuation, cost-benefit analysis, policy evaluation

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