Friday, October 09, 2009

NESC Report on Well-Being

The NESC Well-Being reports are available below. These are lengthy documents with many useful references. I think there needs to be a parallel academic debate in Ireland about the measurement of well-being and an assessment of the public policy factors contributing to well-being and the alleviation of psychological distress. One potential problem with the NESC reports is that they crystallise well-being as a political and social agenda rather than an active and contested area of research. This is perhaps their aim but we should remember that there is still a lot to play for from a research perspective in this field and also well-being doesnt neccesarily imply more government and more regulation.

Volume 1

Volume 2

Some concrete suggestions I would have include:

- presenting aggregate suicide statistics masks the huge heterogeneity in suicide trends among different age-groups. The increase in young suicides over the course of the Celtic Tiger was frightening and still one of the great puzzles of the period from a well-being perspective

- people need to make more and better use of the freely available ESS data. some colleagues and I have written some papers on the well-being and social capital aspects but it is a vastly underutilised data resource.

- as the authors point out, Ireland was not in the first round of SHARE and as such the time-use data for Ireland is not in the current SHARE volumes. But the data is now fully available including for Ireland so pursuing this analysis will be interesting.

- Our most promising line of research has been working on developing the day reconstruction measurement paradigms initiated by Kahneman and colleagues. Some of our papers and references to the wider literature are below

The website for our well-being projects is available below and the link to my lecture series on behavioural economics and public policy is below that. I think behavioural economics is currently providing a potential bridge between economic policy and well-being measurement.

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