Do you feel as though you’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to your marriage and kids – but constant headaches or weight gain bother you? What affects you more – personal life or health?
A new research project led by Dr Gang Chen in the Centre for Health Economics is set to investigate the trade-offs in terms of what impacts a person’s sense of overall well-being.
“The research will give a better understanding of the aspects of life which Australians value most highly and how these change with age,” says Dr Chen.
The research, which has recently been awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant, will help assess policy decisions and ensure that aspects of life that affect Australians the most are given priority – whether these are health, relationships or personal safety.
Welfare has traditionally been measured in economics by using indicators of material welfare such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What this study wants to do is change welfare measurement from national income accounting to how individuals value certain factors in their lives.
Dr Chen argues that subjective well-being is a more direct measure of individual welfare compared with indices based on income or expenditure.
The research will use large-scale survey data such as the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) study combined with choice experiments based on 15-30 minute self-completed surveys.
“What we want to show is ‘what ultimately matters’ when countries are striving for development,” says Dr Chen.