• ISSN: 2155-7950
  • Journal of Business and Economics

Are Subjective Well-being Indicators Subjective?

Boniface Joseph Mhella
(St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Tanzania)
Abstract: If I add six tea spoons of sugar in my cappuccino, and I find it tasty to the extent that I am satisfied and happy with my breakfast, who is that other person to tell me that the indicators of subjective well-being, according to his findings, reveal the otherwise? To what extent do subjective well-being indicators remain subjective, when they are detected, codified, standardized and published by a third party? In this paper I argue that a successful attempt to standardize the determinants of subjective well-being has nothing else but the enhancement of our understanding of objective well-being indicators. Scholars and policymakers may attempt to codify varieties of subjective well-being methodologies and indicators, but only to realize that the standardization reduces the meaning of subjectivity of indicators. This is because, and that is how I see it, subjective well-being indicators make sense when they are left to be subjective. I argue that in order to understand the determinants of the methodology and indicators of subjective well-being we must start, as the first step, observing the personality and the role of policymakers and scholars in improving the well-being of other individual subjects in the society. This is an important step to be used to remind policymakers and scholars about the quality of the expected outputs and about the fact that they should not pretend to know subjective well-being better than the way individual subjects in the society perceive their own subjective well-being. Scholars and policymakers may detect, codify and standardize determinants of subjective well-being, however if they were not well prepared for such a task, they will find out that immediately after publishing them, the extent of subjectivity of these indicators is questioned.
Key words: subjective indicators; objective indicators; natural events; unnatural events; experts of
well-being of others; subjective methodology; objective methodology
JEL codes: B4, I3

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