Incorporating people’s values in development: Weighting alternatives

This paper, written by Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), describes how understanding people's desires can maximise the allocation of resources to ensure they have the greatest effect and make it easier to monitor interventions and outcomes. While there is a clearer understanding of the the set of domains that are important to people's lives, the relative weight or priority that should be given to each domain is less well understood. This paper goes on to look at how it is possible to use 'weights' to improve the outcomes from interventions. 


"Key messages:

  • In the measurement of multidimensional well-being, weights aim to capture the relative importance of each component to a person’s overall well-being. The choice of weights needs to be explicit and could be used to incorporate people’s perspectives into a final metric.
  • Stated preferences approaches aim to obtain weights from individuals’ responses to hypothetical scenarios. We outline six of these approaches. Understanding their design and limitations is vital to make sense of potentially dissimilar results.
  • It is important to select and test an appropriate method for specific contexts, considering the challenges of relying on people’s answers. Two methodologies, DCE and PTO, are put forward for testing in a pilot project." (Takeuchi, 2014)


  • Defining Priorities
  • The role of weights in a well-being index
  • Weighting options
    • Normative weights
    • Data-driven weights
    • Eliciting weights from preferences
  • Limited information, aggregation and further issues


Takeuchi, L. R., (2014), Incorporating people’s values in development: Weighting alternatives. Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Retrieved from:

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