Title: Subjective wellbeing in Colombia: some insights on vulnerability, job security, and relative incomes

Authors: Alexander Krauss; Carol Graham

Addresses: World Bank, 1818 H Street, Washington, DC 20433, USA ' Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC 20036, USA

Abstract: A burgeoning literature explores the extent to which consumption or income inadequately reflect people's subjective wellbeing, just as GDP at times can provide an incomplete and misleading picture of national wellbeing. Scholars are increasingly using data on subjective wellbeing to complement traditional welfare indicators and to enrich our understanding of wellbeing and quality of life. This paper first analyses the relative importance of a wide-range of characteristics and conditions at the individual, household, regional and macro levels on levels of subjective wellbeing in Colombia in 2010/2011; and secondly, assesses the marginal effects of a number of factors on perceived changes in levels of subjective wellbeing over time for the same respondents from 2008/2009 to 2010/2011. Our findings show that increasing the quality of life of Colombians is largely conditional on minimising risks and vulnerabilities: reducing the rate and duration of unemployment; improving the delivery of public health services and the provision of toilet facilities in homes; increasing the share of people with pensions and health plans; enhancing safety and security in communities; and reducing levels of discrimination. We posit that policy aimed at improving people's subjective wellbeing will likely have the greatest impact if focused on mitigating vulnerabilities and negative shocks.

Keywords: subjective wellbeing; happiness; Colombia; unemployment; life satisfaction; vulnerability; job security; relative incomes; consumption; quality of life.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2013.057652

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2013 Vol.1 No.3, pp.233 - 260

Received: 25 Feb 2013
Accepted: 16 May 2013

Published online: 19 Jul 2014 *

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