Is Subjective Well-being a Useful Parameter for Allocating Resources among Public Interventions?

Health Care Analysis 9 (4):437-447 (2001)

Abstract

Scarce public resources require trade-offs between competing programs indifferent sectors, and the careful allocation of fixed resources within a single sector. This paper argues that a general quality of life instrument encompassing health-related and non-health-related components is suitable for determining the best trade-offs between sectors. Further, this paper suggests that subjective well-being shows the properties crucial to a general quality of life measure and has additional advantages that makes it particularly useful for the allocation of public and health care resources. The paper argues that Western societies are in an unusually prosperous situation today which allows to concentrate efforts not only on reducing harm but also on improving positive states of health. Further, subjective well-being can be evaluated from the patient's perspective and incorporates a valuation of life expectancy. Criteria required for an appropriate questionnaire that measures subjective well-being are presented.

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