Monday, June 4, 2012

[EQ] Well-being evidence for policy: A review

Well-being evidence for policy: A review

nef (the new economics foundation) UK - 2012

Available online PDF [88p.] at

“…..Over the last 30 years, there has been a considerable growth in academic research on the causes of well-being.
In general, this literature gives a fairly consistent picture of which factors have associations with subjective well-being.
However, it is only in the last few years that there has been the corresponding level of interest from policymakers at national level

“……This review consists of the following sections:

The Glossary explains key surveys used, measures used, and some of the common abbreviations that appear in this review.

The Introduction reviews some of the key sources of well-being data, the types of measures used and outlines the key methodological issues with this evidence.

Part 1 presents a summary of the current literature on well-being and its determinants and has been structured by policy areas. Policies made in each of these areas will have the potential to explicitly affect well-being. This report aims to provide an overview of current findings but it is not a fully comprehensive review – for this, readers should turn to individual study findings and literature associated with specific areas of research.

Part 2 compares some of the relative effects of the different factors to give an idea of how they compare in terms of their influence on well-being. This provides useful information for policymakers who have (often limited) funds and are under pressure to direct these towards the policies with maximum benefits for subjective well-being.

The Appendix includes most of the fuller data tables that were used as sources for Part 2 to compare the effect sizes of different independent variables within well-being equations. They are intended to give readers more information, and the largest three coefficients are highlighted within each table.

References: Given its emphasis on evidence from the literature, in this review we use the traditional academic referencing style, giving (author and date) at the appropriate point of the text. The full list of references is given at the end of the document….”



Well-being evidence for policy: A review

Academic context

Policy context



Statistical terms

Part 1: A summary of the existing evidence

1.1 The economy


Income inequality

Benefits and welfare payments


Unemployment rate


Type of work

Quality of work

Hours worked



1.2 Social relationships and community

Social activity


Membership of organisations

Membership of religious organisations



Marriage and personal relationships

Family relationships

Having children

1.3 Health

Physical health

Psychological health
Physical activity

Other health behaviour


1.4 Education and care


Informal care

1.5 The local environment

Physical environment

Urban spaces and their design








1.6 Personal characteristics






Materialist values

Part Two: The relative impacts of different factors on well-being

Overview of findings

UK data

European data

US data

Making trade-offs: a case study of unemployment and inflation

Appendix: Comparing effect sizes

United Kingdom


United States




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