July 2016

IZA DP No. 10088: Happiness and Development

Subjective well-being (SWB) indicators, such as positive and negative emotions, life evaluations, and assessments of having purpose and meaning and life are increasingly used alongside income, employment, and consumption measures to provide a more comprehensive view of human progress. SWB measures have several advantages but also challenges which development scholars and practitioners need to carefully consider before introducing such metrics in the policy arena. This article provides an overview of the SWB approach and offers insights into whether and how SWB measures can inform development theory and practice.