If policymakers could measure the actual welfare effects of regulations, and if they had a properly capacious sense of welfare, they would not need to resort to cost-benefit analysis, which gives undue weight to some values and insufficient weight to others. Surveys of self-reported well-being provide valuable information, but it is not yet possible to “map” regulatory consequences onto well-being scales. It follows that at the present time, self-reported well-being cannot be used to assess the welfare effects of regulations. Nonetheless, greatly improved understandings are inevitable, and current findings with respect to reported well-being – above all the serious adverse effects of unemployment – deserve to play a role in regulatory policymaking.
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