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Analyzing Multidimensional Well-Being by Satya R. Chakravarty

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Chapter 1Well-Being as a Multidimensional Phenomenon

1.1 Introduction

The choice of income as the only attribute or dimension of well-being of a population is inappropriate since it ignores heterogeneity across individuals in many other dimensions of living conditions. Each dimension represents a particular aspect of life about which people care. Examples of such dimensions include health, literacy, and housing. A person's achievement in a dimension indicates the extent of his performance in the dimension, for instance, how healthy he is, how friendly he is, how much is his monthly income, and so on.

Only income-dependent well-being quantifiers assume that individuals with the same level of income are regarded as equally well-off irrespective of their positions in such nonincome dimensions. In their report, prepared for the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, constituted under a French Government initiative, Stiglitz et al. (2009, p. 14) wrote “To define what wellbeing means, a multidimensional definition has to be used. Based on academic research and a number of concrete initiatives developed around the world, the Commission has identified the following key dimensions that should be taken into account. At least in principle, these dimensions should be considered simultaneously: (i) Material living standards (income, consumption and wealth); (ii) Health; (iii) Education; (iv) Personal activities including work; (v) Political voice and ...

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