Taking a Well-Being-Years Approach to Policy Choice
Every day, policymakers have to decide whether a policy is desirable. They do so by examining its impact on a whole range of outcomes. But the problem is how to aggregate these disparate outcomes.
For example, as COVID-19 cases rise sharply again, some lockdown measures are gradually being re-introduced across the UK. These policy choices will lead to outcomes which are good (fewer COVID-19 deaths, less commuting, better air quality, etc.) and some which are bad (unemployment, income losses, loneliness, domestic abuse, etc.). How can policy-makers aggregate these disparate effects in order to arrive at some overall assessment? To do so requires a “common currency” in which to measure all the effects. The currency we propose is the change in years of human well-being resulting from the policy.