Measuring happiness for social policy evaluation: a multidimensional index of happiness

Measuring happiness for social policy evaluation: a multidimensional index of happiness

There are multiple indices based on positive psychology and the economics of happiness for measuring, evaluating and developing social policies. Based on univariable scales, they reflect a more hedonic view rather than a complex perspective on social reality and human behavior, which renders them unfit for purpose in the field of sociology. This paper proposes a multidimensional model that includes social relationships and human happiness, focusing more on eudaimonic than hedonic happiness. It contains an affective dimension, an ethical dimension, and a welfare system’s evaluation dimension. Based on the sociology of emotions, it includes elements from Shalom Schwartz’s theory of values and Jacques Thomassen’s study of societies with consolidated political and welfare systems. The model was validated using an Exploratory Factor Analysis with 28 variables from the European Social Survey (ESS). A multidimensional index is proposed, composed of five factors: the welfare system, positive and negative emotional states, altruism, and egocentrism.

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