Well-Being and Public Policy

Main Content

How should we evaluate governmental policy in light of individual well-being?  What are the available methodologies for doing so, and corresponding measures of well-being?  What are the advantages and limitations of these methodologies and measures? The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy (forthcoming) will provide a comprehensive treatment of these large and important questions. The Handbook will be authored by an interdisciplinary and international group of economists, philosophers, psychologists and law professors. 

At the Duke conference in November 2013, authors in Part I and II of the Handbook presented first drafts of their chapters. Part I of the Handbook covers methods of policy assessment, traditional as well as newly emergent: cost-benefit analysis, GDP, income-based inequality and poverty measures, social welfare functions, fair allocation metrics, multidimensional indicators, QALY-based cost-effectiveness analysis, and happiness-based policy analysis. Part II addresses conceptions of well-being: both the various conceptions defended in the contemporary philosophical literature (preference-based, hedonic, and objective-list), and the "subjective well-being" construct that motivates much scholarship in psychology and in happiness economics.

A subsequent conference (at Princeton in February 2014) will cover Part III and IV of the Handbook. Please contact Denise Zapecza,, with questions about that conference.

The complete table of contents for the Handbook is posted on this website. Chapters from the entire Handbook will be posted on this site as they become available, and can be accessed by Handbook authors or conference participants. Please contact Victoria Zellefrow,, if you have questions about this site.


Conference Resources