Publications

Respecting the subject in subjective wellbeing public policy

A 'citizen perspective' should be given a greater role in wellbeing public policymaking.

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Abstract

There is a rising tide of advocacy for public policy to be made on the basis of ‘subjective wellbeing’. We argue that the vast majority of the associated policy proposals adopt the same ‘social planner perspective’ that undergirds conventional economic policy analysis. This perspective is broadly technocratic, emphasising scientific standards for what constitutes good policy and empowering ‘dispassionate’ experts. We argue that Wellbeing Public Policy (WPP) could and should lend itself to a more transformative agenda, one that embraces the value-laden nature of ‘wellbeing’ as a concept. This would see WPP relinquish the social planner perspective’s arguably naïve ideal of objective analysis by technical experts and instead give a greater role to participatory and deliberative modes of policymaking to define, analyse, and measure wellbeing and ultimately make policy decisions. We call this the ‘citizen perspective’.  


The project is funded by the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

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  • About the author

    Professor Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy

    Professor Coyle co-directs the Institute with Professor Kenny. She is heading research under the progress and productivity themes.   Learn more

    Diane Coyle 2018
  • About the author

    Dr Matthew Agarwala, Project Leader: The Wealth Economy

    Matthew Agarwala, Economist, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, Cambridge.   Learn more

    Matthew Agarwala
  • About the author

    Dr Mark Fabian, Research Associate

    Mark is a welfare economist working on the Measuring Well-Being project at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy. His research focuses on the epistemology and ethics of well-being metrics, especially how policymakers and citizens understand well-being, its measurement, and the legitimacy of well-being policy interventions.    Learn more

  • About the author

    Marco Felici, Research Assistant

    Marco Felici a Research Assistant for the Six Capitals Programme at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, working in The Wealth Economy project.    Learn more

    Marco Felici
  • About the author

    Dr Anna Alexandrova

    Anna is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College, having previously taught at the University of Missouri St Louis. She writes on philosophy of social sciences, especially economic modelling, explanation, and the sciences of well-being. She was a recipient of the Philosophy of Science Association Recent PhD Essay Prize.