Understanding Well-being Data

Chapter 1 Introducing well-being data

How should I use this book?

The simple answer here is that, like with any book, you should use it how you want. What I wanted to say is that although there is a logical order to this book, which we go into next, not everyone will find all of it useful or interesting. So, as much as this book is about feeling confident in your judgement about data, you should feel confident that if you are not interested in a section of this book, you should feel you can read the next section.

Because this book aims to explain a lot of background detail to give contextual information for different types of data, or ideas about well- being and society, not everything will feel relevant to everyone. For example, you may be interested in the history of well-being data in a general sense (Chap. 2), but feel like you do not have a need to read about the history of decisions behind the OECD well-being indicators in particular (at the end of Chap. 3). If you are that reader, then feel you can skip a section and move onto the shiny new chapter about the recent history of happiness as a new science (Chap. 4) or Big Data (Chap. 5).

Similarly, you may be interested in the first section about well-being data, but less interested in the specific case studies in social and cultural policy. So, why not skim or skip those and jump to the conclusion—where you may find you want to refer back to specific points in previous chapters any way. This book is designed to hopefully allow you to feel confident to read the whole thing in order, like a novel, or refer to sections. It is designed for you to use it how you like.

There are boxes scattered throughout (that you will find after the list of figures). These are used in different ways. Sometimes the material in the box elaborates on the main text and can be skipped if you are not interested. It is often definitional, explaining the difference between two types of economics, or what a variable is, for example. Sometimes a box might present example data, as with the case of some tweets in Chap. 5. Sometimes, reading it will help contextualise what is happening next. Again, the boxes are meant to make it easy to decide whether you want this detail or not.