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Today, there is a global movement toward the direct measurement and improvement of well-being, pioneered by Gallup and Healthways. This is an endeavor in which Gallup and Healthways have been leaders, providing innovative measures, for the U.S. as well as for most of the countries and most of the people of the world. This report, State of Global Well-Being, is the latest milestone in their work. Measurements of national performance have for too long focused on income — gross domestic product (GDP) and its components — but such measures are much too narrow. Income is certainly important to people — and the growth of incomes over the last 250 years has been one of the greatest achievements of humankind — but it is not the only thing that matters. People can have low well-being and high income, and conversely high well-being and low income. Income is not worth much without health to enjoy it, and good health is a blessing in and of itself, allowing people to live a full and worthwhile life. A good education is not only a vital requirement to do well in life, but it brings its own joys and a richer life in many dimensions. People enjoy contributing meaningfully to the betterment of civil society. The absence of the fear of war and violence, something that was rarely enjoyed by people’s ancestors, also contributes to high well-being. When we ask people to think about how their lives are going, to report on their daily emotions, and to tell us about their health, we gain a much broader picture of their well-being than can be inferred from traditional economic surveys.
This report provides an overview of the GLADS project, the main messages that came out of it and the key conclusions. The main purpose of the report is to work as a general record of the Good Lives and Decent Societies (GLADS) seminar series, not as a summary of each and every presentation. It has been written to give a flavour of the events, not a blow-by-blow account. It is principally aimed at a policy and practice audience, and more generally for anyone interested in the wellbeing debate. GLADS was designed to stimulate multi-disciplinary collaboration between academics, policy makers and practitioners. It aimed to increase understanding, facilitate the sharing of learning and generate new insights into how to embed the multi-faceted notion of societal wellbeing and social progress into decision-making to enable everyone to live a good live in a decent society.
This briefing paper presents key findings and policy recommendations from the data collected in the Wellbeing & Poverty Pathways field research undertaken in Chiawa, Zambia between 2010 and 2012. Key findings include: • Livelihoods in struggle: The people of Chiawa are struggling to survive, with traditional farming methods under threat and few secure alternative opportunities • Resource conflicts: Key concerns relate to the destruction of crops by wildlife, land alienation to outside investors, the elite capture of development interventions and local people's exclusion from decision-making. • Wellbeing: The multi-dimensional model of 'inner wellbeing' shows people in Chiawa to have low economic confidence, little sense of agency and low social trust. The research also demonstrates that local understandings of wellbeing extend into an ethic of taking care of others across time and space, and this should be seen as a model of power well used.
Nic Marks thinks quality of life is measurable. Pioneer in the field of well-being research, he creates statistical methods to measure happiness, analyzing and interpreting the evidence so that it can be applied to such policy fields as education, sustainable development, healthcare, and economics. Founder of the Centre for Well-Being, an independent think tank at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), in London, Marks is particularly keen to promote a balance between sustainable development and quality of life. To investigate this, he devised the Happy Planet Index, a global index of human well-being and environ- mental impact. Ragnhild Bang Nes is a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Oslo) and is focused on finding out the role of the environment regarding our personal happiness and general well-being.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) to undertake analysis of Understanding Society data to develop the evidence base on the wellbeing impacts of cultural engagement and sport participation. This work gives us new evidence of the link between our policies and the social impacts of engagement in both sport and culture.
Over the last half century, economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and improved the lives of many more. Yet it is increasingly evident that a model of development based on economic development alone is incomplete. A society which fails to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, erodes the environment, and limits opportunity for its citizens is not succeeding. Economic growth without social progress results in lack of inclusion, discontent, and social unrest. A broader and more inclusive model of development requires new metrics with which policymakers and citizens can evaluate national performance. We must move beyond simply measuring Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, and make social and environmental measurement integral to national performance measurement. Tracking social and environmental performance rigorously will inform and drive improvement in policy choices and investments by all stakeholders. Measuring social progress will also help to better translate economic gains into better social and environmental performance, which will unleash even greater economic success. The Social Progress Index aims to meet this pressing need by creating a holistic and robust measurement framework for national social and environmental performance that can be used by leaders in government, business and civil society at the country level as a tool to benchmark success, improve policy, and catalyze action. Our vision is a world in which social progress sits alongside economic prosperity as the twin scorecards of success.
At a time of economic turmoil it is perhaps unsurprising that the minds of policy makers focus on the question of how to restart economic growth. But in recent decades people have begun to question the adequacy of GDP as the primary indicator of the progress of societies. A number of governments, local, devolved and national have begun to explore how to measure wellbeing as a complement to traditional measures such as GDP. The project was carried out in partnership with IPPR North and provides evidence from six case studies of experiences of measuring wellbeing in France, the USA and Canada. The report concludes that wellbeing measures are at their most effective when they are supported by a combination of strong leadership, technocractic policy processes and building momentum through wide buy-in from civil society, citizens and the media. Where these elements come together, we have seen benefits for individual and community wellbeing by identifying policy gaps and innovative ways of working. It can also provide a valuable tool for holding governments to account.
This is a story about changing the world by what is measured – counting what matters. It has a cast of characters: Socrates and Aristotle; Jeremy Bentham and Thomas Jefferson; Simon Kuznets and Robert F. Kennedy; Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron; Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz; Martin Seligman and Daniel Gilbert; His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan, and the City of Santa Monica – among a cast of millions including you and me. This story has a central hero – the wellbeing index – and this whitepaper will examine its past, present, and future in an exploration of the what, why, and how of community wellbeing: - What is wellbeing and how is wellbeing defined at the community level? - Why does measuring and prioritizing wellbeing matter and how does it relate to public policy? - How is wellbeing measured at the community level?
New understandings of health and well-being highlight the importance of imagining health interventions that do not simply act on our individual bodies, but operate at multiple scales. This set of Health Horizons forecast perspectives offers a view of six key areas of experimentation that operate across the scales of bodies, networks, and environments. These experiments emerge as responses to six key questions shaping health and well-being.
More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunity for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors, according to a new national survey by the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence.