Wellbeing, policy and social investment: What do we know about measuring human welfare and how can this be used to inform policy?

Presenter: Conal Smith, former senior economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and in managerial and senior policy roles in a range of government agencies.

The ultimate goal of government policy is always grounded in the wellbeing of citizens. However, in practical terms, most public policy has traditionally been made with much more immediate and pragmatic goals in mind. This reflects the difficulties in defining wellbeing, and scepticism as to whether it is even conceptually possible to measure wellbeing.

This presentation covered recent developments in wellbeing economics and the study of wellbeing more widely. There is now broad-based agreement that wellbeing can be meaningfully measured, and that conceptual difficulties previously thought challenging are less formidable than anticipated. In particular, insights from measures of subjective wellbeing and from a wide range of international wellbeing measurement initiatives grounded in objective outcomes suggest that there is a robust set of common core elements. Beyond this, better data has made it possible to measure many previously intractable elements of wellbeing.

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Event date: 
31 March 2017
Event Type: 
Superu events
Last update: 17 May 2018