Jump to:navigation, search

Flag of Italy
Population (In Millions) 59.54
Human Development Index 25/187
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - World Bank) 2,075.22
Global Peace Index 34/162
Happy Planet Index 51/151
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Environmental Performance Index 8/132
Child Mortality Rate 3.1
More information on variables

BES - Benessere Equo e Sostenibile.

Measuring Equitable and Sustainable Wellbeing in Italy. The CNEL / Istat joint national initiative

In December 2010, the National Council for Economics and Labour (CNEL) and the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat) launched a joint initiative to identify a set of progress indicators for Italy. Relevant dimensions and indicators have been discussed and validated by representatives of civil society through a consultative process. See press release.

The initiative aimed at carrying out a process which saw the participation of all major representatives of Italian civil society with the goal of defining the dimensions of progress as well as relevant indicators. The initiative’s activities are based on two pillars: a Steering Committee, coordinated by CNEL and Istat, including 20 representatives of trade associations, trade unions and non-governmental organizations in charge of defining a shared taxonomy of sustainable and equitable wellbeing and leading and validating the process; as well as a Scientific Commisssion, hosted by Istat and composed by internal and external experts, in charge of discussing the indicators that will ultimately be used.

BES Results and Publications

On 26th June 2014 CNEL ISTAT presented the second edition of the “Report on Equitable and Sustainable Well-being” (BES 2014) analysing the fundamental dimensions of well-being and progress in Italy and its territories. With its continued work BES seeks to become a reference point for citizens, for civil society, media and politicians, providing an overall view of the main social, economic and environmental phenomena which characterise the country.


Initiative’s objectives are to:

  • develop a shared definition of progress in Italian society by defining the most relevant domains;
  • select a set of high-quality statistical indicators representative of the different domains;
  • thoroughly communicate the results of the process. The set of indicators defined is in fact intended for a broad public audience as well as for policy users.

The process

The process was divided into three phases, which purposefully overlap:

1. During the first phase the Steering Committee defined the domains to be taken into account. Italian citizens have been able to express their priorities and their opinions through a consultation process settled by the Committee, a national annual survey carried out by Istat and an online tool; the Steering Committee has been called to define which tools are the most appropriate, evaluating the degree of detail the set of indicators has to reach, as well as their policy relevance.

2. During the second phase, analysis of existing indicators which could be used to represent the various domains, with emphasis on their technical features and when to use them is undertaken. The Scientific Commission is responsible for this component of work, evaluating also the opportunity to build composite indexes.

3. The last phase is dedicated to the drafting of a final report and the development of different tools for dissemination and communication.

First phase

As part of the initiative, on April 20th 2011 the Steering Committee for the measurement of progress in Italy held its first meeting. Its task is to define the general framework of analysis for progress in Italy, choosing the domains to be considered, the best tool to be adopted (broad set of indicators, headline indicators, composite index), and the territorial level for the analysis. On 4th November 2011 the Steering Committee presented a first proposal of 12 domains for measuring well-being and launched a process of public consultation on the issue. The 12 domains are:

1. Health

2. Education and training

3. Work and life balance

4. Economic well-being

5. Social relationships

6. Policy and institutions

7. Safety

8. Subjective well-being

9. Landscape and cultural heritage

10. Environment

11. Research and innovation

12. Quality of services

Second phase

On May 24th 2011 the Scientific Commission hosted by Istat held its first meeting with the aim to select the indicators to be used for measuring progress in Italy. The Commission, composed of 79 members, organized itself into thematic groups according to personal skills. In January 2012 a first draft proposal was discussed within the plenary of the Scientific Commission. In March 2012 started a dialogue between the Scientific Commission and the Steering Committee to reach a shared set of Indicators.

The list of the identified indicators for measuring well-being in Italy published

On 20th June 2012 CNEL assembly approved with a unanimous vote the list of 134 indicators. The list can be found here.

Third phase

Dissemination activities started on 11th March 2013 with the publishing of the report "BES 2013" on Equitable and Sustainable Wellbeing in Italy.

On June 26th 2014 it has been published the second report BES2014.


CNEL leading the process offers a guarantee of its legitimacy: CNEL is a Council established by the Italian Constitution composed by representatives of all major working categories, including representatives of entrepreneurs, unions and of the third sector. There are a total of more than 100 counselors representing different stakeholders. CNEL's internal working groups and assembly served as places for deliberation over controversial issues and trade-offs. Politics will be formally excluded from the process. After each phase of the initiative the Parliament is informed of the major results emerging from the initiative.


Stakeholder discussion within CNEL will be sided by a public consultation which happens through three parallel streams. The first one is an on-line consultation in which experts, practitioners and anyone interested in the issue will be asked to define relevant dimensions for the monitoring of progress and wellbeing in Italy both through a questionnaire and through a blog. The second is the inclusion of a specific question in the Multipurpose survey “Aspects of daily life”, which is submitted annually to 24 thousands families to assess the importance attributed by citizens to different dimensions of well-being. The third consultation stream will be centered around the preliminary results of the initiative and will be carried out through territorial meetings.

The on-line consultation

The online survey took place between November 2011 and March 2012 on the website and concluded the first phase of identification of domains for the measurement of equal and sustainable well-being. The results have been published on March 15th 2012 in a report which provides guidance for further work and confirms that the consensus on the importance of going "beyond GDP" is almost unanimous. Only 2% of respondents believe it is not important to consider not purely economic issues when assessing well-being and quality of life. Not all respondents, however, consider equally important the 12 dimensions of well-being. Those considered most important are health (98%), environment (95.1%), education and training (92.4%) and quality of services (91.2%) while economic well-being (44.8%), satisfaction with their lives (44.3%), political participation and trust in institutions (37.2%), safety (30.3%) are considered important by a smaller share of people. The indications of the respondents do not seem to suggest real additional domains, they rather contribute to better specify some aspects of the dimensions already proposed. Information given by respondents on Italian specificities in terms of quality of life are very clear: terms referring to the importance of the artistic, historical, and cultural landscape characterizing our country, along with the quality of food, the mild climate, the quality of social relations and the availability of a universal welfare system appear with rather higher frequency.

The survey

The second consultation stream is the inclusion of a specific question in the Multipurpose survey “Aspects of daily life”, which is submitted annually to 24 thousands families (54 thousands individuals). In the 2011 edition of the Multipurpose survey Istat assessed the importance citizens attribute to different dimensions of well-being. Citizens are asked to assign a score from 0 to 10 according to the increasing “importance for well-being and life” they give to the aspects presented. This question, apart from being statistically very robust allows an annual monitoring of citizens priorities. Results are presented below:

Table 1: What Italians think is important for their wellbeing

Aspects on which Italians will be asked to assess the importance for life and individual wellbeing (0–10) Average score Percentage of 10s
Being in good health 9.7 79.9
Guarantee the future of you children socially and economically 9.3 66.1
Have decent work of which being satisfied 9.2 59.5
Have an adequate income 9.1 56.0
Good relationships with friends and relatives 9.1 53.2
Feeling safe with respect to criminality 9.0 53.6
Be happy in love 9.0 56.3
Live in a society in which you can trust others 8.9 48.8
Good education 8.9 48.3
Present and future environmental conditions 8.9 48.8
Good governance 8.8 46.6
Good quality accessible services 8.7 43.9
Good quality and adequate time for leisure 8.5 37.4
Be able to influence local and national policies 7.8 30.6
Participation to community life through political and associative structures 7.1 18.7

Source: Istat

Istat is Correspondant of the Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies. For progress related issues please contact:

Visit the initiative's website See the whole list of indicators here.

Other initiatives

Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses

(Istituto di Studi e Analisi Economica - ISAE) is part of the Italian public research bodies and institutions. It carries out business and consumer surveys; provides quarterly and annual macroeconomic forecasts; supplies both national and international short-, medium- and long-term economic analyses as well as macro- and microeconomic studies on public finance and on measures to prompt social and territorial cohesion; examines the economic policies attained through regulation rather than through the public budget, analyses the complex dynamics of sustainable development in its environmental, economic and social aspects.

ISAE and OECD hosted a Conference on “Measuring the Progress of Italian Society” on June 3rd and 4th, 2009 at the ISAE premises in Rome. Please read more on Monitoring Italy 2009: Measuring the Progress of Italian Society

ISAE ceased to exist on December 31, 2010. With effect from 1 January 2011, most of the scientific and institutional functions carried out by ISAE were transferred to Istat.

Strategia d’azione ambientale per lo sviluppo sostenibile in Italia

Italy's National Strategy for Sustainable Development is composed of four broad priority areas as stated in the EU's 6th Environmental Action Plan:

  • Climate Change and stratospheric ozone
  • Protection and sustainable use of nature and biodiversity:

natural resources - biotechnologies soil, subsoil and desertification marine and coastal habitats.

  • Quality of the environment and quality of life in urban areas:

urban environment, air quality, indoor air quality and radon, noise electromagnetic pollution, genetically modified organisms food security, reclamation of contaminated sites, environmental crime .

  • Exploitation of resources and waste production:

Regional Social Indicators

The System of Regional Social Indicators (in italian) stems from the system of indicators SISREG, according to the OECD guidelines, with the model of indicators developed by the European Foundation on Social Quality.

Territorial Indicators

The Territorial Indicators by ISTAT, represent a system of demographic, social, environmental and economic indicators referring to geographical areas, regions, provinces and regional and provincial capitals.

Official Statistics

National Statistical Institute

Happiness in Italy

This is an overview of findings on Happiness in Italy.The available findings are presented in the latest ‘Nation Report’ on Italy [1]. This report is ordered by type of happiness questions and within these types by year. This ordering is to facilitate the assessment of progress, comparison over time being most fruitful using the same questions.
The report presents means and standard deviations, both on the original scale range and transformed to a common range 0-10. The means inform about the level of happiness in the country and the standard deviations about inequality of happiness.
Links provide more detail about the precise text of the question, the full distribution of responses and technical details of the survey. The report is continuously updated.

Progress Papers and Publications

Article Information
Wikigender Wikichild GPRNet Wikiprogress.Stat ProgBlog Latin America Network African Network eFrame