Friday, February 25, 2011

Well-being as a Measure of a Nations Success.

If you have ever looked at the UK's New Economics Foundation you will find a lot of interest in the concept of Well-Being as a measure of a nations success or otherwise as an alternative to GDP. Most recently a post entitled Well-Being, then and now
Well I just followed the Integrated Household Survey link and I have to say the "four questions"
• Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
• Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
• Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
• Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?-  might as well have been written by a fourteen year old for a school project- I do understand from later on in the Office for National Statistic's press release that a smaller number (1000) will be surveyed in more detail but these four questions are trivia.
 I once heard a psychologist say that happiness is an unbalanced state of mind. Wellbeing is best defined in terms of the more stable senses of security, satisfaction and contentment rather than the more ephemoral feelings such as happiness, sadness, anxiety. these are secondary emotions that are in part derivative from the presence or lack of the previous mentioned stable senses, but are also in part determined by an individuals psychological make-up.
 I consider well-being best reflected by a persons sense of security, meaningfulness-of-life, social, and civic engagement. Of course these factors would have different weightings for different individuals, that would be an item for further research. To-whit, I have come up with my own "four questions" as follows:

 On a scale of nought to ten
  •  How certain are you that, for the forseeable future, you will be able to secure an income sufficient to fulfil your financial obligations and maintain an acceptable standard of living? (0=completely uncertain, 5=obligations only, 10=completely certain of an acceptable s.o.l.)
  •  How trivial or meaningful do you consider the sum of your worklife, recreational activity, hobbies, volountary work, etc. to be? (0=completely trivial, 10= completely meaningful)
  •  To what extent do you feel that you have meaningful social engagement with your close and extended family mambers, friends, neighbours and colleagues in work and leisure activities? ( 0= not at all, 10= fully engaged)
  •  To what extent do you believe that national and local politicians and public servants in general are willing and able to address issues that you consider to be important to you personally? (0= do not believe at all, 10= believe completely)

 Of course these could be subdivided further if you actually wanted an indication of what policies to pursue to enhance well-being, rather than just to measure it.