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FINAL SESSION - SUMMARY 
Martine Durand 
OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate 
High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic 
Performance and Social Progress 
Workshop on Multidimensional Subjective Well-being 
30-31 October 2014, Turin
Session III: Correlates of subjective well-being 
Speakers 
• Alan Krueger, Andrew Clark, Yann Algan 
Why it matters 
• Need to know which information to collect alongside SWB to help understand variations 
among groups/ over time (e.g. health, unemployment, income) 
• Need to go beyond correlation and towards causality for information to be useful for 
policy (e.g. unemployment: do unhappy people lose their jobs, or do people who lose 
their jobs become unhappy?) 
Issues discussed during the session 
• Very wide set of correlates of subjective well-being (how many of these are real?) 
• Need to deconstruct variables to a greater extent (e.g. moving beyond “health matters” 
and towards a better understanding of which health conditions have the greatest impacts 
and why) 
• Establishing direction of causality can be challenging (e.g. income: do happier people 
earn higher salaries, or does having a higher salary make you happier?)
Session III: Wide range of approaches 
discussed 
Experimental work and policy interventions: 
• Moving to Opportunities experiment (impact of voucher scheme) 
• Early childhood training in non-cognitive skills 
Longitudinal surveys: 
• Longitudinal panel data (e.g. do life events have long-lasting impact on 
subjective well-being, or is it just temporary? Marriage, disability…) 
• Cohort studies (e.g. how events and experience in childhood influence adult 
outcomes) 
Time Use: 
• American Time Use Survey and others – understanding how people feel in 
relation to their activities and experiences (e.g. of the unemployed) 
Big Data: 
• Google Trends of keyword searches as predictors of subjective well-being 
(e.g. to create more timely measures)
Session III: Points arising from discussion 
• Strong demand for data, especially panel data (build it and they will 
come…) 
• Opportunities of Big Data as a complement to other measurement 
approaches 
• Correlates are different for life satisfaction and experienced well-being 
(e.g. anxiety and stress) 
• Challenges of interpretation: expected results reassure; unexpected 
results can be explained away (e.g. if SWB relates to crime it reassures; 
if it doesn’t we can find alternative explanations) 
• Heterogeneity of effects: curse of the average (what works on average 
may not work for you) and the need for a more nuanced approach to 
analysis among different groups of people (not one-size-fits-all/ one 
intervention applies in all cases)
Session III: Points arising from discussion 
• SWB as a possible “leading indicator” in some cases? (e.g. instances 
where objective outcomes. like health or education, develop very slowly 
over time) 
• Some life events have long-lasting effects on life satisfaction and people 
do not adapt to them (e.g. unemployment; poverty; do we adapt to good 
events more than bad ones?) 
• Factors that influence resilience are an important area of study (e.g. 
personal and social resources that people begin to develop in childhood, 
but also policies and public resources that can help people to cope with 
major life events)
BACKGROUND: OECD GUIDELINES ON 
MEASURING SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING 
Martine Durand 
OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate 
High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic 
Performance and Social Progress 
Workshop on Multidimensional Subjective Well-being 
30-31 October 2014, Turin
The OECD Guidelines 
Concept and validity 
Methodological issues 
Good practice in data collection 
+ prototype question modules 
Reporting and analysing the data
The OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective 
Well-Being: Concepts covered 
 More than “happiness”, but not covering everything that is self-reported
Good-practice guidance and prototype 
question modules 
• Core module (above) intended to be used as a 
common baseline for all countries 
• Covers all dimensions of SWB in a minimal way 
• The only questions we encourage all countries to 
use 
Six question modules 
A: Core 
B: Life evaluation 
C: Affect 
D: Eudaimonia 
E: Domain evaluation 
F: Experienced 
well-being 
9

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HLEG thematic workshop on "Multidimensional Subjective Well-being", Martine Durand Session Summary

  • 1. FINAL SESSION - SUMMARY Martine Durand OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Workshop on Multidimensional Subjective Well-being 30-31 October 2014, Turin
  • 2. Session III: Correlates of subjective well-being Speakers • Alan Krueger, Andrew Clark, Yann Algan Why it matters • Need to know which information to collect alongside SWB to help understand variations among groups/ over time (e.g. health, unemployment, income) • Need to go beyond correlation and towards causality for information to be useful for policy (e.g. unemployment: do unhappy people lose their jobs, or do people who lose their jobs become unhappy?) Issues discussed during the session • Very wide set of correlates of subjective well-being (how many of these are real?) • Need to deconstruct variables to a greater extent (e.g. moving beyond “health matters” and towards a better understanding of which health conditions have the greatest impacts and why) • Establishing direction of causality can be challenging (e.g. income: do happier people earn higher salaries, or does having a higher salary make you happier?)
  • 3. Session III: Wide range of approaches discussed Experimental work and policy interventions: • Moving to Opportunities experiment (impact of voucher scheme) • Early childhood training in non-cognitive skills Longitudinal surveys: • Longitudinal panel data (e.g. do life events have long-lasting impact on subjective well-being, or is it just temporary? Marriage, disability…) • Cohort studies (e.g. how events and experience in childhood influence adult outcomes) Time Use: • American Time Use Survey and others – understanding how people feel in relation to their activities and experiences (e.g. of the unemployed) Big Data: • Google Trends of keyword searches as predictors of subjective well-being (e.g. to create more timely measures)
  • 4. Session III: Points arising from discussion • Strong demand for data, especially panel data (build it and they will come…) • Opportunities of Big Data as a complement to other measurement approaches • Correlates are different for life satisfaction and experienced well-being (e.g. anxiety and stress) • Challenges of interpretation: expected results reassure; unexpected results can be explained away (e.g. if SWB relates to crime it reassures; if it doesn’t we can find alternative explanations) • Heterogeneity of effects: curse of the average (what works on average may not work for you) and the need for a more nuanced approach to analysis among different groups of people (not one-size-fits-all/ one intervention applies in all cases)
  • 5. Session III: Points arising from discussion • SWB as a possible “leading indicator” in some cases? (e.g. instances where objective outcomes. like health or education, develop very slowly over time) • Some life events have long-lasting effects on life satisfaction and people do not adapt to them (e.g. unemployment; poverty; do we adapt to good events more than bad ones?) • Factors that influence resilience are an important area of study (e.g. personal and social resources that people begin to develop in childhood, but also policies and public resources that can help people to cope with major life events)
  • 6. BACKGROUND: OECD GUIDELINES ON MEASURING SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING Martine Durand OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Workshop on Multidimensional Subjective Well-being 30-31 October 2014, Turin
  • 7. The OECD Guidelines Concept and validity Methodological issues Good practice in data collection + prototype question modules Reporting and analysing the data
  • 8. The OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-Being: Concepts covered  More than “happiness”, but not covering everything that is self-reported
  • 9. Good-practice guidance and prototype question modules • Core module (above) intended to be used as a common baseline for all countries • Covers all dimensions of SWB in a minimal way • The only questions we encourage all countries to use Six question modules A: Core B: Life evaluation C: Affect D: Eudaimonia E: Domain evaluation F: Experienced well-being 9

Editor's Notes

  1. Context: Myriad of different measures available. Lack of international consensus on the best approach to use. Goal was to summarise known-knowns (and known-unknowns) about good practice so far, and propose a way forward for NSOs. Key ai.m was to draw together the literature and start to build international consensus BUT, it’s always important to be clear on what we mean by SWB – so this slide summarises the main areas covered by the Guidelines. It includes life satisfaction (and satisfaction with specific domains of life, such as income, health, and work). It also includes affect (or what might be more broadly interpreted as “experienced well-being”) – so mood, emotions and experiences like anger, worry and happiness. And also “eudamonia” or psychological well-being, which encompasses things like competency, autonomy, meaning and purpose in life. So the scope of the guidelines is a lot wider than “happiness” but it is focused on people’s experiences of life, NOT everything that is self-reported. So self-reported health, or social connections, are not covered.
  2. Really quick reminder of what’s in the Guidelines. Chapters covering …. Marco will tell you more about the practical details of the Guidelines and their IMPLEMENTATION in the next session. And Martine is going to talk about developments in terms of POLICY USE. So I’m now going to jump straight into what I think are some of the key outstanding issues on the MEASUREMENT side of things.
  3. Context: Myriad of different measures available. Lack of international consensus on the best approach to use. Goal was to summarise known-knowns (and known-unknowns) about good practice so far, and propose a way forward for NSOs. Key ai.m was to draw together the literature and start to build international consensus BUT, it’s always important to be clear on what we mean by SWB – so this slide summarises the main areas covered by the Guidelines. It includes life satisfaction (and satisfaction with specific domains of life, such as income, health, and work). It also includes affect (or what might be more broadly interpreted as “experienced well-being”) – so mood, emotions and experiences like anger, worry and happiness. And also “eudamonia” or psychological well-being, which encompasses things like competency, autonomy, meaning and purpose in life. So the scope of the guidelines is a lot wider than “happiness” but it is focused on people’s experiences of life, NOT everything that is self-reported. So self-reported health, or social connections, are not covered.
  4. The Guidelines are intended as a resource for data producers, not as a prescriptive standard A core question module is identified to provide the basis for a common international set of reference questions Additional question modules on life evaluation, affect, eudaimonia, domain evaluations, and experienced well-being are intended as a resource for data producers in developing their own questionnaires that best meet their needs The OECD approach to measuring the different dimensions of subjective well-being is modular. It is designed with the space constraints felt by NSOs in mind, and therefore one could use: Just a single primary question (life satisfaction, qn A1) if there are extreme space constraints Or a small set of questions taking less than a minute in total as the preferred option (the whole core module) -Other question modules can be added in as needed.