Ranking quality of life using subjective well-being data


Moro M, Brereton F, Ferreira S & Clinch JP (2008) Ranking quality of life using subjective well-being data. Ecological Economics, 65 (3), pp. 448-460.

Indices ranking the quality of life in cities based on climatic, environmental and urban conditions have a long tradition in the hedonic literature. In this paper we propose an alternative set of indices based on subjective well-being (SWB) data linked to regional level amenities. SWB indicators provide a direct, self-reported evaluation of life satisfaction and can be used to rank quality of life among different locations in the absence of data on housing prices and wages. Using SWB data in Ireland, we show how to rank quality of life in regions in three different ways: 1) using a simple unconditional average of SWB across locations, 2) conditionally, controlling for personal characteristics of individuals and the environmental amenities in their area and 3) weighting the environmental endowments in each location by the marginal rate of substitution between income and the amenity. The results show a very high correlation between the three indices and suggest that variation in SWB across locations is not random, but is driven to a large extent by the endowment of location-specific amenities across locations.

subjective well-being; happiness; quality of life; index; local amenities; Ireland

Ecological Economics: Volume 65, Issue 3

Publication date30/04/2008
Publication date online28/02/2008