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Does Subjective Well-being Contribute to Our Understanding of Mexican Well-being?

Jeremy Heald and Erick Trevi\~no Aguilar

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Abstract: The article reviews the history of well-being to gauge how subjective question surveys can improve our understanding of well-being in Mexico. The research uses data at the level of the 32 federal entities or States, taking advantage of the heterogeneity in development indicator readings between and within geographical areas, the product of socioeconomic inequality. The data come principally from two innovative subjective questionnaires, BIARE and ENVIPE, which intersect in their fully representative state-wide applications in 2014, but also from conventional objective indicator sources such as the HDI and conventional surveys. This study uses two approaches, a descriptive analysis of a state-by-state landscape of indicators, both subjective and objective, in an initial search for stand-out well-being patterns, and an econometric study of a large selection of mainly subjective indicators inspired by theory and the findings of previous Mexican research. Descriptive analysis confirms that subjective well-being correlates strongly with and complements objective data, providing interesting directions for analysis. The econometrics literature indicates that happiness increases with income and satisfying of material needs as theory suggests, but also that Mexicans are relatively happy considering their mediocre incomes and high levels of insecurity, the last of which, by categorizing according to satisfaction with life, can be shown to impact poorer people disproportionately. The article suggests that well-being is a complex, multidimensional construct which can be revealed by using exploratory multi-regression and partial correlations models which juxtapose subjective and objective indicators.

Date: 2020-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen and nep-hap
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Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2004.11420