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DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 A Comparative Analysis of Wellbeing Perceptions and Aspirations in Egypt and the UK Solava Ibrahim Lecturer in International.

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Presentation on theme: "DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 A Comparative Analysis of Wellbeing Perceptions and Aspirations in Egypt and the UK Solava Ibrahim Lecturer in International."— Presentation transcript:

1 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 A Comparative Analysis of Wellbeing Perceptions and Aspirations in Egypt and the UK Solava Ibrahim Lecturer in International Development Institute for Development Policy and Management The University of Manchester solava.ibrahim@manchester.ac.uk solava.ibrahim@manchester.ac.uk

2 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 2 It is possible to develop a grounded value-based Theory of Wellbeing which is derived from peoples voices and which accounts for what people value and have reason to value. Main Argument

3 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 3 What do People Value?

4 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 4 1. Conduct a Comparative Analysis of Wellbeing Perceptions in deprived communities in Egypt and the UK 2. Identify common drivers of deprivation and wellbeing in the Global North and the Global South 3. Explore the Role of Human Values and Human Agency in achieving Wellbeing 4. Present a new Standardized Methodology to articulate these valued capabilities 5. Presenting preliminary results comparing: Levels and Reasons for Life satisfaction/dissatisfaction Elements of a Good Life Problems and Areas of Deprivation Unfulfilled Aspirations Aims

5 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 5 Why Wellbeing Analyses?

6 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 6 Move away from studying poverty to studying poverty and wellbeing as two complementary and closely related areas of inquiry Differentiating poverty reduction- from wellbeing-enhancing policies? Growing interest among policymakers to articulate wellbeing perceptions to get a more comprehensive picture of how a country is progressing (ONS, 2011). Existing gap in national statistical systems on subjective wellbeing (Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi commission report, 2009) Why Wellbeing Analyses?

7 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 7 Developing a Grounded Value-based Theory of Wellbeing Why?

8 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 8 Drawing on Peoples voices rather than Aristotelian ethics, Philosophical abstract accounts or Economists indices Identifying what is important for people not what we think is important for them! Applying a new form of Empirical Action Philosophy that bridges disciplinary boundaries Departing from happiness, life satisfaction and subjective wellbeing studies to value-based accounts of wellbeing: Sen (1999): What people value and have reason to value Raibley (2011): Wellbeing as Agential Flourishing Why Grounded Value-based Theory of Wellbeing?

9 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 9 Bringing Agency back in by asking people four aspects of their wellbeing: (1) what they value; (2) why they value them; (3) whether they have achieved them or not; and (4) why. Rendering Wellbeing assessment a crucial guide for policymakers by developing a new normative framework for wellbeing policy (Haybron and Tiberius, 2012). Standardising the methodology for articulating peoples valued capabilities in different socio-cultural, political and economic contexts to allow for its application in the Global North and the Global South Why Grounded Value-based Theory of Wellbeing?

10 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 10 But! Wellbeing is a complex and multidimensional concept – Give up its assessment? No!

11 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 11 Adopting a suitable Conceptual Framework for Wellbeing Analyses The Capability Approach?

12 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 12 Emphasizes the importance of democratic processes and public deliberation in identifying which capabilities matter Accounts for what people value and have reason to value – not what they own, feel or are simply happy about. Focuses on Process-freedom and is Agency-oriented : not only about achieving wellbeing, but also asks: HOW? Acknowledges inter- and intra-cultural and intra-personal variations in accounting for what wellbeing is. Broadening the Informational Space for assessing wellbeing – capabilities as potential choices and functionings as the actual achievements Conceptualising Human Wellbeing: Adopting the Capability Approach – Why?

13 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 13 Developing a New Methodology to Articulate Wellbeing Perceptions Why?

14 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 14 Existing methods focus on happiness or life satisfaction Existing studies on capabilities usually measure functionings Need to ask the why question to identify the reasons behind the valuations and the achievements of valued capabilities (or the lack thereof) Generate a list of valued capabilities that is based on peoples voices– thus reducing the gap between what people value and what policymakers prioritise. Why a New Methodology for Wellbeing Assessment?

15 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 15 Capability Functioning Conversion Factors 1.Do you value……… 2.Why do you value…….. 3. Have you succeeded in achieving ………..? 4. Why have/havent you succeeded in achieving.? Grounded Methodological Approach to Exploring Valued Capabilities

16 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 16 General Well-being: Life Satisfaction, Elements of a Good Life, Problems, Aspirations Material Well-being: Income Generation, Education, Employment, Health, Safety, (Housing, Transportation,) Special Section added in UK: social spending cuts and their impact on wellbeing; relationship with local and national organisations (e.g. Local council and charity organisations and NGOs) Social Well-being: Social respect and Fair Treatment, Family and Friends, Communal trust, Relationship with formal institutions (the state, NGOs and religious organizations), Political freedom Mental Well-being: Leisure and Free Time, Life Planning, Fears and Worries. Missing Dimensions: Completing any missing Dimensions of Well-being through the Voices of the Poor The Questionnaire

17 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 17 Life Satisfaction Are you generally satisfied with your life? Why? Elements of a Good Life: What do you think are the three most important aspects of a good life that you value? Which of these three is the most important? which is the second most important? Problems affecting Wellbeing: What do you think are the three main problems you are facing in your life? Which of these problems of those three is the most important? Unfulfilled Aspirations Are there any things that you aspired to achieve in life but could not? What are the three most important things that you wished to achieve in life but couldnt?/Are there things that you wished to achieve in life but couldn't? Preliminary Results on the following Questions

18 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 18 Each Questionnaire with ~ 92 open-ended questions: 80 conducted in Egypt 62 conducted in Salford Two Fieldwork Sites in Egypt : Manshiet Nasser: one of the Poorest Urban Slums in Cairo Menia: Rural Villages in Upper Egypt Two Fieldwork Sites in Salford : Weaste Claremont Challenges of applying the Questionnaire in the North Sampling: Stratified Random Sampling: Age and Gender in Egypt Snowballing and Purposive Sampling in Egypt and the UK Fieldwork

19 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 19 Caveat! This is not a representative sample, nevertheless, the rich qualitative data and the random selection, could allow for careful international comparisons and (generalisations). Can it all be coincidence? Unlikely!

20 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 20 Sample Characteristics

21 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 21 Sample Characteristics Equally Divided between men and women in both countries In the UK, biased towards Weaste (65%) due to higher levels of deprivation than Claremont, but in Egypt equally divided between both locations to allow for rural-urban comparisons. In Egypt, biased towards younger (18-40 years) (67.5%)age group, due to national dependency ratio of 70%; while in UK equally divided between younger and older age groups. Egypt Salford AGETotal YoungOld GenderMale 181230 Female 131932 Total 31 62 AGETotal YoungOld GenderMale 251439 Female 291241 Total542680

22 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 22 Life Satisfaction

23 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 23 Life Satisfaction In Egypt - 52.5% of the respondents were satisfied with their lives, 42.5% dissatisfied and only 5% indifferent. In the UK – 72.6% indicated they were satisfied compared to 25.8% who said No and 1.6% were indifferent What Does this Mean? The reported high levels of life satisfaction in both countries can be either due to adaptation or to a true assessment of valuables in life The higher reported satisfaction in the UK could be a reflection of the lower level of relative deprivation in Salford compared to the Egyptian fieldwork areas. Level of Life SatisfactionUKEgypt No 25.842.5 Yes 72.652.5 Neither Yes nor No 1.65.0

24 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 24 But ! Adaptive Preferences Adaptive preferences refer to the adjustment of peoples aspirations to feasible possibilities (Elster, 1982, 219). Comments Indicating Adaptive Preferences in Egypt – in the UK less cases - I do not like to look at those who are better than me; I look at those worse off, so that I can survive! - one day is good and the other one is bad, whoever accepts the least lives - A person adapts himself to his conditions, I accept my destiny - I have adapted myself to my conditions and accepted them - I thank God, everything is destined. - I am much better than other people - God wants this. Whoever is satisfied says thank God and whoever is tired says thank God. We cannot do anything - we go with the current - I am willing to live with the minimum so long as I have peace of mind - one has to be satisfied with himself - Thank God, I am satisfied with whichever God gives us/brings

25 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 25 But! Adaptation is NOT Everything! People HAD reasons for Dis/Satisfaction!

26 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 26 Reasons for Life Satisfaction in Egypt and UK UK (Weaste & Claremont)Egypt (MN & Menia) RankReasons for Life Satisfaction 1FamilyIncome 2JobFamily 3Health / Self fulfilmentChildren/Relationship 4Friends/ Social lifeJob 5Financial StabilityGood Health 6Children/Relationship/HousingBelief in God/Education 7Communal Role and Hobbies Self-fulfilment and Peace of Mind 8EducationGood Area/Physical Surrounding 9Relationship with God/ownership of a car

27 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 27 Life Satisfaction – What Matters? In Salford, social wellbeing dimensions, such as happy family, loyal friends and having a social life were important drivers for life satisfaction compared to material dimensions, such as income, in Egypt In the UK, jobs are more important for life satisfaction than Egypt, probably due to the nature of insecure jobs in Egypt Surprisingly, health and education do not rank highly in Egypt The precedence of psychological/mental wellbeing aspects in Salford, such as self-fulfilment, compared to the dominance of the spiritual in Egypt, e.g. Relationship with God In Sum: in Salford social and mental wellbeing dimensions are more important compared to spiritual and material dimensions in Egypt

28 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 28 Reasons for Life Dissatisfaction in Egypt and UK Rank UKEgypt 1Lack of Self-fulfilmentLack of income 2 Job Dissatisfaction/ Broken Family Relations Family-related problems 3Social ExclusionSocial and Physical Surrounding 4 Lack of Financial Security/ Health Problems Job Dissatisfaction 5HousingLack of Education 6 Social Exclusion 7Lack of Self-fulfilment/ Health Problems

29 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 29 Life Dissatisfaction – Why? Same reasons for life dissatisfaction but different rankings: lack of jobs, lack of financial security, family-related problems, social exclusion and inadequate social and physical surroundings In both contexts, family problems e.g. failed marriages, broken family relations etc.., are important causes for life dissatisfaction Yet again, in Egypt, material factors, such as lack of income and inadequate physical surrounding take precedence compared to more social and mental wellbeing dimensions, such as lack of self- fulfilment and social exclusion in Salford Surprise! Lack of education and health problems did not rank highly as reasons for life dissatisfaction in both countries The drivers of life dissatisfaction can be different from the drivers of life satisfaction?

30 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 30 Elements of a Good Life Valued Capabilities

31 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 31 Elements of a Good Life – Priorities list (most important elements only) Rank Elements of a Good Life: Priorities of Life (Egypt) Elements of a Good Life: Priorities of Life (UK) 1Belief in GodFamily 2IncomeHealth 3HousingFriends 4Peace of Mind/SatisfactionChildren 5JobsSafe Surrounding 6Happy FamilyJobs 7Children Income/ relationship with God/ Peace of Mind/ Good Personal Traits and Self-Motivation 8Good Health 9Good Partner 10Education 11Safe Surrounding (local and national) 12Social Relations/Engagement 13Good Personal Traits 14Food

32 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 32 Elements of a Good Life – Priorities list (most important elements only) Contrary to conventional wisdom about the materialistic North and the social South, exactly the opposite! – income came only last in Salford but 2 nd in Egypt! Social wellbeing dimensions, such as having a family, friends and good health as main priorities in Salford – notice a pattern here? A combination of materialistic and spiritual dimensions took precedence in Egypt as belief in God, income and housing Contrast between the rural and the urban sites in Egypt, the former valuing family, children and peace of mind, while the latter emphasizing the importance of housing and jobs. Both value income and religion the most.

33 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 33 Elements of a Good Life – Priorities list (most important elements only) Contrast between Egypt and the UK, the former values religion, while in the latter it ranked last – explaining rise of political Islam? Another area of contrast is income and housing which are valued more in Egypt (2 nd and 3 rd ), compared to UK (only ranked 7 th and unranked) – relativity of deprivation? Health was valued the most in the UK compared to 8 th place in Egypt - the importance of the NHS and implications of spending cuts? Education was not identified as a priority in either of the two countries – is the valuation of Education becoming mainly instrumental? Safety valued more in the UK – maybe as a result of the riots? Has this valuation of safety in Egypt changed after the revolution?

34 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 34 Elements of a Good Life – General list (all stated elements of a good life) Rank Elements of a Good Life: General list (UK) Elements of a Good Life: General list (Egypt) 1 Health/ Family/ Friends Income 2 Belief in God 3Self-fulfilment and Peace of MindJobs 4 Happy Family 5Safe SurroundingHousing 6 Children/ Education Social Relations/ Self-fulfilment 7 Hobbies/ Relationship with God/ car ownership Good Personal Traits 8Children 9 Good Partners/ Safe Surrounding 10Good Health/Education 11Food

35 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 35 Elements of a Good Life – General list Confirming our hypothesis – it IS possible to develop a grounded theory of wellbeing based on peoples valued capabilities Income, family and jobs are the most valued elements of a good life in both countries – despite their diverse contexts - move from clash of civilisations to common humanity? Context matters – but how? Another pattern – similar to life satisfaction results – in Egypt, more materialistic and spiritual elements (income, belief in God, jobs) take precedence while in the UK more social and psychological elements (family, friends, self-fulfillment) are important. Health ranked first in the UK but only last in Egypt – adaptation? Education ranked last in Egypt compared to 6 th in UK – again confirming the instrumental importance of returns from education, e.g. job market and self-esteem

36 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 36 Can We really argue for a Grounded Value-based Theory of Wellbeing? Yes!!! Why?

37 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 37 Add South Africa to the results… Clark (2002)

38 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 38 Elements of a Good Life – Egypt, UK and SA Rank Elements of a Good Life General List ( Egypt) Elements of a Good Life (Clark, 2002, 172) Elements of a Good Life: General list (UK) 1IncomeJobs Health/ Family/ Friends 2Belief in GodHousingIncome 3JobsEducationSelf-fulfilment and Peace of Mind 4Happy FamilyIncomeJobs 5HousingGood FamilySafe Surrounding 6 Social Relations/ Peace of Mind Living Religious/Christian Life Children/ Education 7Good Personal TraitsGood Health Hobbies/ Relationship with God/ car ownership 8ChildrenEnough Food 9 Good Partner/ Safe Surroundings (Local and National) Happiness/Joy 10Good Health / EducationLove (each other) 11FoodGood Friends

39 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 39 Elements of a Good Life – Grounded Theory of Wellbeing? SAME elements in ALL three countries – but different rankings In all three – AGAIN – jobs, family and income ranked the highest Commonalities between Egypt and the UK: Self-fulfilment, friends, valuing children, living in a safe environment Interestingly, safety was missing from the SA list! Commonalities between Egypt and SA: Religious life, housing and food Housing and food did not even appear on the UK list! Commonalities between SA and the UK: Health and education valued – but came last in Egypt!

40 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 40 Dare to Generate a List of Valued Capabilities? Scoring each element according to its importance and frequency

41 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 41 List of Valued Capabilities RankElement of Good LifeScore 1Income29 2Job28 3Family26 4Belief in God21 5 Friends Self-fulfilment Health 18 6 Education (Housing) 17 7 Children (Safe Surrounding) 10 8 (Food) (Good Character) (Hobbies) 5 9Good Partner3 10Love each other2

42 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 42 Problems – Areas of Deprivation?

43 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 43 Main Problems in Egypt and the UK RankMain Problems (UK) Main Problems (Egypt) 1HealthIncome 2 Family/Personal Problems 3JobJobs 4Family-relatedSocial Problems 5WorryPhysical/Social Services 6 Social Exclusion and lack of social support Housing 7 Area-related/Lack of self-fulfilment and purpose Health 8Lack of self-confidenceEducation 9Global concernsBad Character Traits 10Lack of time/ National government policies Bad Relation with Government

44 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 44 Main Problems – different contexts, similar problems? Ill-health as primary concern in the UK – despite the existence of NHS – but ignored in Egypt (triangulation and confirmation of previous results) In both countries, financial insecurity and lack of job/job satisfaction are primary problems – the importance of employment generating policies Social factors, especially family-related problems, play a crucial role in affecting human wellbeing in both countries Interestingly, global concerns, e.g. environmental degradation, poverty and world peace, appeared in the British list! Confirming previous results, In the UK: mental and social wellbeing dimensions, such as worry, social exclusion, lack of social support are important In Egypt: material problems, for example related to social services, such as housing, health and education are more important than others.

45 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 45 Aspirations – Unfulfilled Capabilities

46 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 46 What did People wish to achieve but couldnt? How Different were their unfulfilled Aspired Capabilities?

47 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 47 Failed Aspirations – Unfulfilled Capabilities? Rank Unfulfilled Aspirations (UK) Unfulfilled Aspirations (Egypt) 1Job 2Education 3MarriageIncome 4Hobbies Marriage/ Housing/ Children's Capabilities 5TravelSocial and Physical Surrounding 6Housing Communal Role/ Hobbies 7DrivingFulfilling Religious Duties 8Social Acceptance/Self-confidenceTravel 9Health/ Communal role

48 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 48 Failed Aspirations – Unfulfilled Capabilities Could not have IMAGINED a better MATCH! Identical list of unfulfilled aspired capabilities: Lack of Jobs Lack of Education Inability to get married/settle down Similar to Previous results: In Egypt: more materialistic aspects such as income, housing and living in safe surrounding Spiritual aspects, such as fulfilling religious duties appear again In the UK: softer non-basic aspects, such as practicing ones hobbies, travelling and driving appear primacy of psychological and mental wellbeing dimensions appear again, such as lack of social acceptance and lack of self-esteem

49 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 49 Why is this Important?

50 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 50 What are the Implications of These Results?

51 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 51 Concluding Remarks It IS possible to develop a grounded value-based theory of wellbeing given the similarities between the valued capabilities in Egypt, South Africa and the UK – despite their diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts In the Global North, e.g. in the UK, social and mental wellbeing dimensions take precedence, while in Egypt, more materialistic and spiritual aspects are important The drivers for life satisfaction could be different from the causes of life dissatisfaction – there might be a need for wellbeing-enhancing policies in contrast to policies that reduce life dissatisfaction or reduce poverty.

52 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 52 Policy Implications and Future Research The new methodological tool is robust and can be applied in different contexts and allows for international comparisons Need to move from poverty to poverty and wellbeing-enhancing policies The similarities of unfulfilled aspirations is crucial, especially given the diverse levels of development of each country Need for wider and broader application to allow for further comparisons

53 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 53 It is indeed possible to argue for aValue-based Grounded Understanding of Human Wellbeing

54 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 54 Maybe after all, We do Value the same Things in Life!

55 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 55 Thank You

56 DSA 2012 Conference Nov 3 rd, 2012 56 Questions or Comments ?


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