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A new publication from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presents the first internationally comparable guidelines for measuring, collecting and using data on subjective well-being.

The guideline recommendations focus on methodological considerations, and conclude that questions remain on the optimal way of measuring subjective well-being.

OECD20 March 2013: A new publication from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presents the first internationally comparable guidelines for measuring, collecting and using data on subjective well-being. The guideline recommendations focus on methodological considerations, and conclude that questions remain on the optimal way of measuring subjective well-being.

The “OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being” are aimed at national statistical officers and other relevant users in designing, collecting and publishing measures of subjective well-being. The publication advises readers on collecting information on people’s evaluations and experiences of life, as well as on collecting “eudaimonic” (happiness) measures of psychological well-being. However, it is explained that subjective well-being encompasses more than just “happiness” and includes “first and foremost measures of how people experience and evaluate their life as a whole.”

The publication highlights: the relevance of measuring subjective well-being for monitoring and policy-making; the role of national statistical agencies in fostering the utility of existing measures; best practice approaches; and guidance for reporting. It also includes prototype survey modules on subjective well-being.

The report concludes that questions remain regarding the best way to measure subjective well-being, but that national statistical agencies could provide data that would go a long way to answering these questions.

The Guidelines were produced as part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, a project launched in 2011, with the objective to measure society’s progress across 11 domains of well-being, including jobs, health, housing, civic engagement and the environment. [Publication: OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being] [OECD Press Release]

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