Measuring Progress Towards Social Goals: Some Possibilities at National and Local Levels
AbstractThe need for progress in measuring social change is evident. Without measurement it is improbable that desirable goals can be reached. Yet, in contrast to a few exceptionally advanced fields, most areas of social concern and public policy suffer from lack of even the most elementary information, leaving the field wide open for guessing, emotion, low-grade politics, and waste, while the problems remain. Considerable progress is feasible, however. The existing information can be organized and provided regularly, and serious work can be initiated to develop information now missing altogether, improve existing information, and develop workable ways for communicating data. This paper, drawn from the experience of an on-going project, deals with the measurement of social goals. Indicators can be identified which reflect reasonably well critical aspects of some of the most important objectives not only of individuals and families but also of local, state, and federal governments. About 20 such indicators were selected including life-expectancy at birth and the number of persons with chronic disabilities as the indicators reflecting the health goals, the rate of violent crimes as the measure of public safety, the number of persons in poverty and in near-poverty as indicative of concerns with equity, etc. Most of this information had to be pieced together. The existing statistical systems are not geared to provide it. Big gape exist. For many concerns, e.g., quality of the physical environment, where the concepts for measurement can be specified the data do not exist. In still other fields, e.g., "leisure" or discretionary time, even the conceptual work remains to be done. Very useful local information systems describing many important aspects of social change can be put together with the information now in existence without much trouble. More complete reporting systems, and systems aimed at assessment of possibilities for future changes require much additional basic and development work.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.
Volume (Year): 16 (1970)
Issue (Month): 12 (August)
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- Martikainen, Olli & Autere, Jussi & Nurmela, Markku, 2006. "Performance Improvement in Public Organizations, How to Leverage ICT Investments," Discussion Papers 1022, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
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