IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Last Mile in Analyzing Wellbeing and Poverty: Indices of Social Development


  • Irene van Staveren
  • Ellen Webbink
  • Arjan de Haan
  • Roberto Foa


Development practitioners worldwide increasingly recognize the importance of informal institutions-such as norms of cooperation, non-discrimination, or the role of community oversight in the management of investment activities-in affecting well-being, poverty, and even economic growth. There has been little empirical analysis that tests these relationships at the international level. This is largely due to data limitations: few reliable, globally representative data sources exist that can provide a basis for cross-country comparison of social norms and practice, social trust, and community engagement. The International Institute of Social Studies now hosts a large database of social development indicators compiled from a wide range of sources in a first attempt to overcome such data constraints, at a low cost ( The Indices of Social Development are based on over 200 measures from 25 reputable data sources for the years 1990 to 2010.These measures are aggregated into six composite indices: civic activism, interpersonal safety and trust, inter-group cohesion, clubs and associations, gender equality, and inclusion of minorities. Not all data sources provide observations for indicators in each country, but together these data sources allow for comprehensive estimates of social behavior and norms of interaction across a broad range of societies, and increasingly with possibilities to track changes over time. This paper presents the database, highlights the differences, similarities, and complementarities with other measures of well-being, including those around income poverty, multidimensional poverty, and human development.

Suggested Citation

  • Irene van Staveren & Ellen Webbink & Arjan de Haan & Roberto Foa, 2014. "The Last Mile in Analyzing Wellbeing and Poverty: Indices of Social Development," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 8-26, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:43:y:2014:i:1:p:8-26
    DOI: 10.1080/07360932.2013.780980

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anis A. Dani & Arjan de Haan, 2008. "Inclusive States : Social Policy and Structural Inequalities," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6409.
    2. C. Mark Blackden, 1999. "Gender, Growth, and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Other Operational Studies 9873, The World Bank.
    3. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 1994. "Human development Index: Methodology and Measurement," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1994-02, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    4. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "Cents and Sociability: Household Income and Social Capital in Rural Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 871-897, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. de Haan, Arjan & Foa, Roberto, 2014. "Indices of social development and their application to Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 132, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Janet Gale Stotsky & Sakina Shibuya & Lisa L Kolovich & Suhaib Kebhaj, 2016. "Trends in Gender Equality and Women’s Advancement," IMF Working Papers 16/21, International Monetary Fund.
    3. David Urbano & Sebastian Aparicio & Victor Querol, 2016. "Social progress orientation and innovative entrepreneurship: an international analysis," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 26(5), pages 1033-1066, December.
    4. Huang, Y.L. & Cameron, J., 2012. "Granger inspired testing the ISDs for possible causal relationships," ISD Working Paper Series 2012-01, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    5. Irene van Staveren & Zahid Pervaiz, 2017. "Is it Ethnic Fractionalization or Social Exclusion, Which Affects Social Cohesion?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(2), pages 711-731, January.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:43:y:2014:i:1:p:8-26. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.