The literature on well being measurement seems to suggest that “ask- ing” for a self-evaluation is the only way to estimate a complete and reliable mea- sure of well being. At the same time “not asking” is the only way to avoid biased evaluations due to self-reporting. Here we propose a method for estimating the welfare perception of a community simply “listening” to the conversations on So- cial Network Sites. The Social Well Being Index (SWBI) and its components are proposed through to an innovative technique of supervised sentiment analysis called iSA which scales to any language and big data. As main methodological advantages, this approach can estimate several aspects of social well being directly from self-declared perceptions, instead of approximating it through objective (but partial) quantitative variables like GDP; moreover self-perceptions of welfare are spontaneous and not obtained as answers to explicit questions that are proved to bias the result. As an application we evaluate the SWBI in Italy through the period 2012-2015 through the analysis of more than 143 millions of tweets.
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