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Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy; Doing without Theory


Policy-makers implement policies aimed at promoting individual well-being and are now turning to social scientists who develop measures of it for guidance on how to understand their citizen’s well-being. I examine the relationship between philosophical theories of well-being, the variety of well-being measures available in the social sciences, and the implications this relationship can have for public policy. I argue that while agreement on what measures represent well-being simpliciter might be unattainable, some agreement can be reached when treating well-being measurement as a practical problem for guiding public policy.

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