An exploratory analysis of societal preferences for quality of life attributes and research impacts in Canada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) tends to have impacts that enhance quality of life (QOL) but that are not amenable to pricing in established markets. If the economic value of ‘non-market’ research impacts is ignored when making the business case for HASS research, society will under-invest in it. My goal in this research was to quantify priorities and tradeoffs Canadians were willing to make between broad QOL attributes. A national sample (N = 1,612; 14,571 observations) cleaved into five distinct latent classes, each of which varied according to their preferences and willingness to pay for QOL impacts. One class, comprising 21% of the sample, placed a strong priority on QOL indicators relating to people, community, and culture, and was willing to pay, on average, $892 per household per year for improvements across a full range of QOL attributes. While willing to pay $1,393 per household per year in total, a second segment, comprising 20% of the sample, focused heavily on benefits more likely to be derived from science and technology research. Willingness to pay for specific and aggregate improvements amongst the balance of the sample was lower. Diverse preferences regarding potential QOL impacts suggest that researchers will need to consider both the source and magnitude of public benefits arising from HASS research in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-153
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

Cite this