© 2007

Human Well-Being

Concept and Measurement

  • Mark McGillivray

Part of the Studies in Development Economics and Policy book series (SDEP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Mark McGillivray, Farhad Noorbakhsh
    Pages 113-134
  3. S. Subramanian
    Pages 135-166
  4. Stephan Klasen
    Pages 167-192
  5. Eric Neumayer
    Pages 193-213
  6. Ruut Veenhoven
    Pages 214-239
  7. Sarah White, Jethro Pettit
    Pages 240-267

About this book


This book provides insights into how human well-being could be better defined and empirically assessed. It takes stock of and reviews various concepts and measures and provides recommendations for future practice and research.


inequality Poverty research science and technology sustainability well-being

Editors and affiliations

  • Mark McGillivray
    • 1
  1. 1.World Institute for Development Economics ResearchUnited Nations UniversityHelsinkiFinland

About the editors

STEVEN DOWRICK Professor of Economics, Australian National University, Australia DES GASPER Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands SUSAN HARKNESS Lecturer in Economics, University of Bristol, UK STEPHAN KLASEN Professor of Economics, University of Göttingen, Germany ERIC NEUMAYER Reader in Environment and Development, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK FARHAD NOORBAKHSH Professor of Development Economics and Head, Department of Economics, University of Glasgow, UK JETHRO PETTIT Member, Participation Group, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK S. SUBRAMANIAN Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies, India RUUT VEENHOVEN Professor of Social Conditions for Human Happiness, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands SARAH WHITE Lecturer in Sociology and International Development and Director, Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath, UK

Bibliographic information

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'It has become widely acknowledged that the purpose of development is to improve human well being. But how do we define well being? How do we measure it? This volume is a much needed publication that brings together leading research on addressing these questions. This is an important book for all development professionals.' - Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Visiting Professor, The New School, New York, and Director and Lead Author, UNDP Human Development Reports 1996-2004

'This volume extends WIDER's outstanding tradition of publishing cutting edge work on the quality of life. Mark McGillivray has done a fine job of bringing together new work by leading figures in the field. Anyone interested in research in this area should consult and learn from this book.' - Mozzafer Qizilbash, Professor of Politics, Economics and Philosophy, University of York

'The authors of this much-needed book critically consolidate current literature on well-being measurement, propose new dimensions and measures, and articulate the need for more and better international data. The project of shaping indicators and processes to reflect wider horizons of human aspiration is of pivotal importance in development, and the book provides a tremendously solid yet creative contribution to it.' - Sabina Alkire, Director, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Department of International Development, University of Oxford

'Cross-country comparisons of human development and well-being are both common and controversial. This comprehensive review of alternative ways of measuring human well-being at the level of nations is therefore timely and welcome. The whole range of different conceptualizations as well as data constraints and measurement techniques are discussed. The authors both define the research frontier and suggest ways forward for future research. This study is also very useful for all the users of the various well-being indicators available today.' - Arne Bigsten, Professor of Development Economics, Göteborg University

'...a sound compilation and evaluation of current concepts and measurements of human well-being, indicating not only the huge variety of approaches, but also the difficulties and limitations attached.' - Tina Beuchelt and Manfred Zeller, Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture