Report on Measuring progress and well-being: Achievements and challenges of a new global movement
The report “Measuring progress and well-being: Achievements and challenges of a new global movement” was authored by Christian Kroll (London School of Economics) and published on 07 October 2011 by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Germany. It provides an overview of the current initiatives on measuring progress and well-being in a number of pioneering countries, two years after the Stiglitz et al. report. Differences and similarities in the national strategies to measure well-being become visible, as well as future challenges for this new global movement.
Furthermore, Kroll’s study makes several contributions to the debate and suggests, among other things:
• Regulatory Impact Assessments with a focus on quality of life (QOL-RIA)
…in order to routinely evaluate the impact that new policies are likely to have (and have had) on the key quality of life dimensions that a society has deemed important. This procedure could institutionalise a greater awareness for quality of life issues as part of the policymaking process right from the start.
• an annual »indicator-based State of the Union address«
…by a senior political figure, who could in future comment specifically on developments with regard to national indicators of well-being, and outline in practical terms how the government will respond to the problem areas identified in this way.
• involving the public in the selection of indicators
… An emphatically participatory approach is not only suitable for capturing people’s ideas and opinions on national indicators of well-being; more significantly, such a process increases the sense of procedural justice among citizens and thus ultimately the potential relevance of the chosen set of indicators.
• combining the advantages of dashboard and index in the reporting of well-being
…A constructive solution to this debate could be to provide a small dashboard with the key dimensions of well-being that a society considers important next to an index composed of these dimensions which serves to generate attention. The communication strategy could make skillful use of the respective advantages of the two approaches. For instance, one could regularly publish the index, and simultaneously present and analyse one of the elements of the underlying dashboard.
Table of contents
1. Introduction: Finding new answers to important questions
1.1 What is “well-being?”
2. Case studies
2.1. United Kingdom
2.10. Other countries and stakeholders
Developing countries: UNDP, OPHI
3. Conclusion: Differences and similarities in the past achievements, challenges for the future
3.3 Dashboard vs. index
3.4 Subjective well-being
3.5 Public participation
3.6 The next steps
The report was presented to a number of MPs and experts from the German national roundtable on measuring well-being (Enquete Commission on “Growth, Wealth, Quality of Life”) in September 2011.
The report is supplemented by a shorter policy paper entitled “Measuring progress and well-being: An opportunity for political parties?” It sets out the consequences of the international progress debate for political stakeholders. Among them are: (i) a new culture of accountability is making its way into politics; (ii) political debates are once again being put on a more factual basis; (iii) evidence-based policy measures are resulting from the more prominent role of well-being indicators; (iv) political parties are being given an exceptional opportunity to develop an overarching narrative and to make clear to the voters the outcomes to which the individual elements of their policy measures are supposed to lead; (v) what really separates the different parties is becoming more evident; and (vi) the issues of the current debate can counteract widespread disenchantment with politics and inspire people once more to take an interest in the issues about how we want to live together as a society.
Christian Kroll is conducting research on happiness, social capital and quality of life at the London School of Economics. He is also a member of the Technical Advisory Group, a UK expert body concerned with the measurement of national well-being.
Author's homepage: www.christiankroll.eu