Measuring well-being and lives worth living

Marc Fleurbaey, Gregory Ponthiere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We study the measurement of well-being when individuals have heterogeneous preferences, including different conceptions of a life worth living. When individuals differ in the conception of a life worth living, the equivalent income can regard an individual whose life is not worth living as being better off than an individual whose life is worth living. In order to avoid this paradoxical result, we reexamine the ethical foundations of well-being measures in such a way as to take into account heterogeneity in the conception of a life worth living. We derive, from simple axioms, an alternative measure of well-being, which is an equivalent income net of the income threshold making lifetime neutral. That new well-being index always ranks an individual whose life is not worth living as worse-off than an individual with a life worth living.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1247-1266
Number of pages20
JournalEconomic Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Equivalent income
  • Lifetime
  • Measurement
  • Value of life
  • Well-being


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