Assessing the Subjective Wellbeing of Nations
The issue presented in this chapter produced and produces wide debates, starting from the definition of the main concept involved, seen often in different dualisms, subjective vs. objective, subjective wellbeing vs. objective wellbeing, and subjective indicators vs. objective indicators.
By lingering on the last dualism, objective indicators refer to data not stemmed from individual perceptions, evaluations and preferences, while subjective indicators measure characteristics which are related to people’s perceptions, preferences, evaluations, opinions, and values. Data to be considered according to the two perspectives should be objectively produced in both cases, which means through a methodology yielding reliable and reproducible data.
The validity of those data is directly connected to the concepts to measure. In this respect, the conceptual definitions are complicated and difficult to manage and agree upon, due to cultural, historical, and linguistic differences.
The complexity includes also the notion of “wellbeing of nation”. In this respect, many questions arise. Does the sum of individuals’ subjective wellbeing represent nation’s wellbeing? Or nation’s wellbeing is something different? This implies also a, only apparently, technical question: does averaging individual subjective wellbeing represents the synthetic country’s wellbeing?
Subjective wellbeing of nations should play an important role in the policy making process, even though limited since it provides only one type of information, only one perspective of the reality, which remains complex and multifaceted.
KeywordsSubjective wellbeing Subjective indicators Subjective aspects of wellbeing
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