Author(s)  
Carol Graham, Milena Nikolova

We explore the relationship between agency and hedonic and evaluative dimensions of well-being, using data from the Gallup World Poll. We posit that individuals emphasize one well-being dimension over the other, depending on their agency. We test four hypotheses including whether: (i) positive levels of well-being in one dimension coexist with negative ones in another; and (ii) individuals place a different value on agency depending on their positions in the well-being and income distributions. We find that: (i) agency is more important to the evaluative well-being of respondents with more means; (ii) negative levels of hedonic well-being coexist with positive levels of evaluative well-being as people acquire agency; and (iii) both income and agency are less important to well-being at highest levels of the well-being distribution. We hope to contribute insight into one of the most complex and important components of well-being, namely, people's capacity to pursue fulfilling lives.

JEL Codes  
I14: Health and Inequality
G18: General Financial Markets: Government Policy and Regulation
O50: Economywide Country Studies: General
Keywords  
agency
capabilities
subjective well-being