Reading list

The philosophy of wellbeing

Philosophers use ‘wellbeing’ to refer to what makes your life go well for you, and ‘happiness’ to refer to a positive psychological state. Wellbeing and happiness need not be the same thing, hence the common expression ‘there’s more to life than happiness’.

Two entries from the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy.​

The measurement of wellbeing

A book-length document, “these guidelines represent the first attempt to provide international recommendations on collecting, publishing, and analysing subjective well-being data”:

Two general discussions of the measures:

​Distinguishing between the “remembering self” and the “experiencing self”:

A sceptical take on using happiness measures:

A paper suggesting people make global comparison, suggesting people might be using roughly the same criteria to judge their lives:

A paper comparing Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to life satisfaction scores:

An advanced paper on cardinality:

An advanced paper on how much difference it makes if you interpret life satisfaction scores as ordinal vs cardinal:

Determinants of life satisfaction

Hedonic adaptation

Affective forecasting

A paper on the fact we’re not very good at predicting how we or others will feel:

  • Wilson, T. D. and Gilbert, D. T. (2005). Affective Forecasting. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 131–34

Social comparison

The Easterlin Paradox

The Easterlin Paradox is the finding that raising GDP doesn’t raise aggregate life satisfaction over the long-term.

Poverty, income, and life satisfaction

A study on cash transfers that suggests adaptation and comparison effects:

Another study on cash transfers:

A paper suggesting that making people wealthier didn’t decrease depressive symptoms:

A paper discussing the fact that China became less satisfied despite economic progress:

Effective treatments

Annual reports