Beyond the Grumpy Rich Man and the Happy Peasant: Subjective Perspectives on Wellbeing and Food Security in Rural India
White, Sarah C.
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This paper relates different subjective approaches to wellbeing to different traditions of economic analysis. The dominant formula of ‘Subjective Well-Being’is attractive because it promises a direct measure of utility, but other approaches bring different strengths to policy evaluation. ‘Inner Wellbeing,’ which has affinities to Sen’s Capabilities Approach, is introduced. Analysis of primary data from mixed method research in rural India explores what ‘happiness’ and other subjective perspectives add to understanding of food security policies at a community and individual level. This shows that subjective perceptions contribute most when considered on their own terms, ratherthan as proxies for objective outcomes.This work is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council/Department for International Development Joint Scheme for Research on International Development (Poverty Alleviation) grant number RES-167-25-0507 ES/H033769/1.