Thursday, 20 October 2011

A survey of well-being initiatives

At the national level, there are a number of initiatives focused on measuring the well-being of citizens. There seems to be more all the time, actually. According to the Wikiprogress media review, the UK and Australia seem to be getting the most press. However, there are other countries which are also looking into this. 

Since the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission’s report was published in 2009, a number of National Statistics Offices have been picking up some of the recommendations and applying them. At the conference last week at the OECD, the UK, France, Germany New Zealand, Korea and Japan all presented their initiatives and also communicated on the challenges they face.

For Korea, quality of life includes quality of individual lives and also the quality of society. This is measured by a combination of objective and subjective measures. The framework puts the individual citizen in the center then the society and then the environment (picture this like an onion). There are 9 domains and 111 indicators. The goal is for an active community that takes care of each other to promote social cohesion. Korea reported that social cohesion is a priority there as well as the environment. They are prioritizing the distribution of social welfare and also resource efficiency.  In terms of challenges, some of the indicators proved to be difficult. The example cited was that divorce rates may have a negative impact on the family but a positive impact on personal freedom.

The UK brought their initiative on self reported well-being to the table. David Halpern reported that there has been rapid progress on this in the UK. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is a supporter of it and said in November 2010 that "economic growth is a means to an end". They are also applying behavioral economics in terms of looking at what it is that citizens do to help themselves. The UK has been looking at more subjective measure of progress like life satisfaction and the policy implications of the results for years. They are also looking at the issue that there are things you may choose to do because you find it worthwhile but it may not necessarily make you happy. An example Halpern sites was, "…children…you may not be happy to try to get your children to do their homework but you find it worthwhile".

For more initiatives, you can go here: or to our map (thanks to the ABS!)

See Wikiprogress' page on UK here:
See Wikiprogress' page on Korea here:


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