This project aims at an assessment of energy supply and the structure of the energy system in terms of citizens’ utility, operationalized as subjective well-being (SWB) or ‘happiness’.
Over the last decades, SWB indicators have emerged as an alternative to monetary socio-economic indicators for the measurement of individual welfare, opening the door to a new paradigm for policy-making which sets people’s happiness, rather than national income, as the goal that policy makers should try to maximize. As part of the shift in emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people's welfare, in a report to the French president, a group of renowned economists advocate expanding the measurement of economic and social welfare to include sustainability and SWB measures (Stiglitz Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress).
Moreover, given the ubiquitous and often large externalities associated with energy production and consumption, we cannot rely on market prices alone to measure all the costs and benefits of the energy output.
In this project, we directly evaluate the utility that people derive from energy, by combining data on SWB elicited in large-scale surveys – the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Swiss Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) – with data on energy variables such as energy consumption, energy prices, energy-related taxes and subsidies, the energy mix, and people’s proximity to nuclear power plants. We use a multivariate regression analysis in a European, multi-regional geographical setting to investigate correlations between people’s well-being and energy consumption, energy supply, and the structure of the energy system. Using such an approach follows a recent trend in economics of using subjective data for evaluating policies, institutions, and non-market goods.