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A Survey of Indicators of Economic and Social Well-being

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  • Andrew Sharpe

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Abstract

In recent years, interest in aggregate or composite indicators of economic and social well-being at the community, national and international levels has grown greatly. For example, the release each year of the United Nations?Human Development Index (HDI) generates considerable media interest, particularly in Canada. Equally, the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) produced by the think tank Redefining Progress has become very well known in a short period of time, and is referred to often in debates on the inadequacies of GDP as a welfare measure. Many communities in Canada and in the United States have attempted to develop social indicators to monitor trends in the welfare of their citizens. The objective of this paper is to provide a survey of the major indicators of economic and social well-being that have been developed at the national and international levels. The paper is divided into three main parts. The first provides a short overview of social indicators, looking at the history of the social indicators movement, types of social indicators, purposes of social indicators, and noting how the development of summary indexes, the focus of this paper, represents the latest phase in the history of social indicators. The second part summarizes what the author believes are the best known and most important indexes of economic and social well-being that have been developed. The third section of the paper discusses a number of issues in the construction of indexes of economic and social well-being, including criteria for index evaluation and application to the indexes developed for Canada; single versus multiple indicator approaches; money versus composite indicators; weighting issues in composite indicators; national versus community indicators; bottom-up versus top-down index design; advocacy versus knowledge-driven indicators; ad hoc versus theoretically consistent indicators; and technical issues in index construction.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Sharpe, 1999. "A Survey of Indicators of Economic and Social Well-being," CSLS Research Reports 99wb, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:resrep:99wb
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    File URL: http://www.csls.ca/reports/paper3a.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. ED Diener, 1995. "A value based index for measuring national quality of life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 107-127, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ulrich van Suntum & Oliver Lerbs, 2011. "Theoretische Fundierung und Bewertung alternativer Methoden der Wohlfahrtsmessung," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 181, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    2. Rai, Anil & Sharma, S.D. & Sahoo, Prachi Misra & Malhotra, P.K., 2008. "Development of Livelihood Index for Different Agro-Climatic Zones of India," Agricultural Economics Research Review, Agricultural Economics Research Association (India), vol. 21(2), December.
    3. Berloffa, Gabriella & Modena, Francesca, 2012. "Economic well-being in Italy: The role of income insecurity and intergenerational inequality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 751-765.
    4. Kathleen Day & R. Quentin Grafton, 2001. "Economic Growth and Environmental Degradation in Canada," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
    5. van der Heide, C.M. & Brouwer, Floor M. & Bellon, Stephane & Bockstaller, Christian & Garrod, Guy & Geniaux, Ghislain & Oliveira, Rosario & Smith, Peter & Stapleton, Lee & Weinzaepflen, Emmanuelle & Z, 2007. "Review of approaches to establish reference levels to interpret indicators," Reports 57466, SEAMLESS: System for Environmental and Agricultural Modelling, Linking European Science and Society.
    6. Andrew Sharpe, 2004. "Literature Review of Frameworks for Macro-indicators," CSLS Research Reports 2004-03, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    7. Andrew Sharpe & Jeremy Smith, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Research on Well-being: A Survey of Indicators of Well-being," CSLS Research Reports 2005-02, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    8. Warren, Paul, 2005. "Key Indicators in Canada," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2005037e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    9. Bruno Boidin, 2005. "Droit à la santé et coopération internationale : les déficiences institutionnelles," Mondes en développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 129(1), pages 75-92.
    10. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2001. "Trends in Economic Well-being in Canada in the 1990s," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
    11. Lars Osberg, 2001. "Needs and Wants: What is Social Progress and How Should it be Measured," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
    12. Riccardo Natoli & Segu Zuhair, 2011. "Measuring Progress: A Comparison of the GDP, HDI, GS and the RIE," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 33-56, August.
    13. Guisan, M.C., 2009. "Government Effectiveness, Education, Economic Development And Well-Being: Analysis Of European Countries In Comparison With The United States And Canada, 2000-2007," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 9(1).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Well-being; Well Being; Wellbeing; Indexes; Indices; Indicators;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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