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Data in SocietyChallenging Statistics in an Age of Globalisation$
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Jeff Evans, Sally Ruane, and Humphrey Southall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447348214

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447348214.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

Measuring social wellbeing

Measuring social wellbeing

(p.265) 20 Measuring social wellbeing
Data in Society

Roy Carr-Hill

Policy Press

This chapter reviews and critiques the various approaches to measuring social well-being. Economists have tried to argue for a single consistent criterion (based on money) but have mostly been ignored. Instead, there have been three main approaches: first, the postulate that there is a minimum set of basic needs, which should be satisfied for everyone; second the investigation into people's quality of life, whether ‘objectively’ measured or self-reported; and third the eclectic compilation of administrative and survey data according to a list of 'concerns'. There are theoretical and practical problems with the first two approaches. For the third approach, the measurement of social well-being should reflect the variety of ways in which people order their lives. Of course, there are some overbearing constraints, such as the threat of poverty or war; but, within those constraints, there are a multitude of modes of living so that the definition and specification of the elements of well-being should accordingly vary. We introduce two distinctive characteristics: first, beyond certain minima, it is not always clear how 'more' consumption adds to welfare; second, we emphasise the monitoring collective well-being both in terms of inequality and human rights and in terms of reducing ecological damage.

Keywords:   inadequacy of GNP, basic needs, quality of life measurement, consumerism and welfare, measurement of collective well-being

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