Poverty and wellbeing indices

Question

Please provide information on key global indices and frameworks 1. for monitoring multidimensional poverty and wellbeing and 2. that incorporate measures of subjective wellbeing, outlining their pros and cons and listing the key sources that discuss them.

Summary

The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress was created in 2008 to explore the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress. Much literature in the past has critiqued the inadequacy of income measures. The Commission was also tasked with considering additional information and tools required to produce a more relevant picture of progress. The Commission published its final report in 2009. It advocates for a shift in emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring the wellbeing of people. It considers wellbeing to be multi-dimensional, incorporating the following dimensions (see p. 14-15):

  • Material living standards (income, consumption and wealth)
  • Health
  • Education
  • Personal activities including work
  • Political voice and governance
  • Social connections and relationships
  • Environment (present and future conditions)
  • Insecurity, of an economic as well as a physical nature.

This helpdesk research report surveys a range of indices developed to measure various aspects of wellbeing and poverty.

  • Part 1 of the report focuses on multi-dimensional poverty and objective wellbeing indices: the Human Development Index, the Multidimensional Poverty Index, Indices of Social Development, MDG Indicators and various Gender indices.
  • Part 2 focuses on indices that incorporate measures of subjective wellbeing: Gross National Happiness – Bhutan, the OECD’s Better Life Index, Gallup’s World Poll, the U-Index, and briefly HMG’s Office of National Statistics recent work on wellbeing.

All of these indices have been created in part as a response to the perceived inadequacy of income measures (and other traditional poverty and wellbeing indices) in capturing all the elements important to wellbeing. The report outlines what the indices aim to measure and how. It also discusses strengths and critiques of each index, based on a review of key literature. Many of the indices can be used in conjunction in order to provide a more complete picture of people’s wellbeing.

 

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