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Using Well-being for Better Public Policy

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Social thinkers around the world are developing measures of human well-being that are meant to serve as guides for public policy. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities this work presents by describing a workable concept of well-being and analyzing how it relates to key characteristics of a democratic public-policy process. This analysis produces guidelines as to how well-being knowledge might be used to improve public policy – and also how it should not. These guidelines are then applied to evaluate six existing well-being indices, highlighting where they have been successful and where they have fallen short. Based on these lessons, I make several recommendations about how to utilize well-being knowledge to improve public policy.
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