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Study Notes

Subjective well-being

A Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Subjective well-being is defined as a person's evaluations of his or her life – usually measured by surveys.

If well-being is now considered as important, how accurate are the surveys used to assess changes in well-being? Should we focus solely on individual & household well-being or should we also consider the well-being of future generations, and the well-being of people living in other countries? This inevitably brings value judgements into play.

The New Zealand government announced the world's first well-being budget in May 2019. Their entire fiscal budget is now based on wellbeing priorities such as improving mental health, addressing child poverty and sexual violence and also improving access to and affordability of housing.

Well-being is now a statistic collected by the Office of National Statistics, that considers the personal life satisfaction / anxiety / stress of citizens. Well-being is a multi-dimensional concept which includes indicators such as:

  1. Real Gross Domestic Product per capita
  2. Real Household Spending per head
  3. Median Household Income rather than mean income.
  4. Household Net Wealth (net wealth is the value of assets – value of liabilities)
  5. 3D approach to inequality – i.e. looking at inequalities of income, consumption and wealth (not solely income)
  6. Unemployment rate and the employment rate in the labour market
  7. Financial situation of households + their feeling of security
  8. Survey evidence on the extent of stress in people’s personal lives. In the UK, according to the ONS, in 2018, about 10 million people or around a fifth of the population report high anxiety.
  9. Health and social connectedness e.g. healthy life expectancy, measures of active civic engagement
  10. Access to, delays in providing key public services such as A&E and routine health procedures

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