The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy has just been published. The Handbook provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatment of its topic.
The Handbook includes thirty chapters divided into four Parts. Part I covers the full range of methodologies for evaluating governmental policy and assessing societal condition — including both the leading approaches in current use by policymakers and academics (such as GDP, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, inequality and poverty metrics, and the concept of the “social welfare function”), and emerging techniques (such as “social ordering functions,” multidimensional indices grounded in the notion of “capabilities,” and happiness-based policy analysis). Part II focuses on the nature of well-being. What, most fundamentally, determines whether an individual life is better or worse for the person living it? Her happiness? Her preference-satisfaction? Her attainment of various “objective goods”? Part III addresses the measurement of well-being and the thorny topic of interpersonal comparisons. How can we construct a meaningful scale of individual welfare, which allows for comparisons of well-being levels and differences, both within one individual’s life, and across lives? Should we even attempt to do so, or is it better to evaluate policy with respect to each “capability” taken separately? Finally, Part IV reviews the major challenges to designing governmental policy around individual well-being: social evaluation under risk and uncertainty, the role of individual responsibility, badly behaved preferences, measuring well-being on a lifetime basis, measurement challenges posed by price heterogeneity and household-level data, and policy effects on future generations.
The Handbook is edited by Matthew D. Adler and Marc Fleurbaey. Chapter authors are: Jose Maria Abellán, Matthew D. Adler, Sabina Alkire, Richard Arneson, Robin Boadway, John Broome, Krister Bykvist, Satya R. Chakravarty, P.A. Chiappori, Andrew E. Clark, Frank E. Cowell, Koen Decancq, Paul Dolan, Jean-Yves Duclos, Francisco H.G. Ferreira, Marc Fleurbaey, Daniel Fujiwara, Carol Graham, Daniel M. Haybron, Carmen Herrero, Thomas Hurka, Richard E. Lucas, Maria Ana Lugo, François Maniquet, Philippe Mongin, Dirk Neumann, Vito Peragine, Jose Luis Pinto-Prades, Marcus Pivato, Thomas Pogge, Gregory Ponthiere, D.S. Prasada Rao, Paul Schreyer, Eldar Shafir, William Thomson, Luca Tiberti, John A. Weymark, and Scott Wisor.