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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Measuring national wellbeing

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Governments and other institutions worldwide are increasingly interested in measuring and monitoring wellbeing at the individual, social group and national levels.

There is a growing international consensus about the need for additional national indicators of economic performance and social progress to supplement established measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Advances in measurement and research on different dimensions of wellbeing, as well as political interests, have lead countries to develop data collection tools called National Wellbeing Measures (NWBMs). These reflect many dimensions of people’s lives and goals, and their link to sustainability and the economy. This could include national, individual and subjective wellbeing as well as happiness, quality of life or life satisfaction.  

This type of data is important because it could be used to inform central and local policy making. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the monetary value of goods and services produced in a country. This is often used as the headline indicator of a society’s success and progress; however GDP is not necessarily a good measure of personal or national wellbeing.

The UK has taken a leading role in this research by developing a national wellbeing framework. In November 2010, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) began developing indicators of national wellbeing. The UK is at the forefront of incorporating subjective wellbeing as part of a national annual population survey and published the first annual report in July 2012.

         Three-quarters of people surveyed rated their life satisfaction as 7 or more out of 10.

         80% of people surveyed gave a rating of at least 7 when asked if they felt their lives were worthwhile.

         Teenagers, over 65s and those with partners reported higher life satisfaction and worthwhile ratings.

         Almost half of those unemployed rated their life satisfaction as below 7.

         Two-fifths of those with a disability rated their life satisfaction as below 7. 

Recent advances in subjective wellbeing research come from the development of new techniques to capture people’s momentary emotional states and how they spend their time on a daily basis.

Meg commented:

“Looking at citizen’s wellbeing by developing National Wellbeing Measures is an important part of democratic governance and policy-making. I believe it is necessary for governments to look for new ways of measuring people’s wellbeing, and therefore improving our quality of life”

To read more about measuring national wellbeing follow this link: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/POST-PN-421

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