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Measuring National Well-being – Measuring What Matters John C Hughes Measuring National Well-being Programme Manager (Scottish Universities Insight Institute,

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Presentation on theme: "Measuring National Well-being – Measuring What Matters John C Hughes Measuring National Well-being Programme Manager (Scottish Universities Insight Institute,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Measuring National Well-being – Measuring What Matters John C Hughes Measuring National Well-being Programme Manager (Scottish Universities Insight Institute, 25 February 2014)

2 Background Traditional measures of progress such as GDP are increasingly considered an incomplete picture of the state of the nation. Additional economic, social and environmental measures are needed alongside GDP to provide a complete picture of how society is doing. UK’s Measuring National Well-being (MNW) Programme was launched by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the National Statistician in November 2010.

3 UK Prime Minister asks... “You’ve got to take practical steps to make sure government is properly focused on our quality of life as well as economic growth” “this information will help government work out, with evidence, the best ways of helping to improve people’s well- being.” David Cameron, November 2010 “Statistics are the bedrock of democracy, in a country where we care about what is happening. We must measure what matters - the key elements of national well-being. We want to develop measures based on what people tell us matters most.” Jil Matheson, November 2010

4 National Debate MNW Programme started with a national debate on ‘what matters to you?’ Aim: To gather information and engage public support for methods of measuring national well-being. Employed both conventional and innovative methods of communicating. Debate has helped the ONS identify the key areas that matter most Help to ensure that the measures we use will be relevant, not only to government, but also to the wider public.

5 Developing the domains and measures We listened… …to the nearly 34,000 responses and considered relevant academic research on the area. We have…. …developed a framework for measuring national well-being, including headline measures. We used.......the National Statistician’s Advisory Forum and a Technical Advisory Group for advice and support. We propose… …10 domains with 3 to 5 headline measures each, mixture of both objective and subjective measures.

6 Domains of National Well-being Sustainability Issues over time Equality/Fairness More contextual domains The Economy Governance Education and skills Natural Environment Factors directly affecting individual well- being Personal Finance Our relationshipsWhat we do Where we live Health Individual Well-Being People’s own Assessment of their own well-being (SWB)

7 UK’s Approach Using many existing sources (around 21) to populate the Domains. Added 4 questions on personal well-being to household surveys, covering: Life satisfaction; Worthwhile life; Happy; and Anxious yesterday. Findings analysed alongside other information to help understand impact on well-being.

8 National Well-being wheel


10 What is important to personal well-being? Latest findings from regression analysis of personal well-being found: Self-reported health, employment status and relationship status most important aspects of personal well-being. Higher earnings don’t necessarily lead to higher feelings of happiness but do increase people’s life satisfaction. People in higher occupations or with higher qualifications more anxious than lower occupations or qualifications. Findings provide evidence for future decision making (personal and governments)

11 Policy Appraisal It is important new measures are used to improve the development, implementation and evaluation of policies In July 2011 the Treasury updated the guidance on cost-benefit analysis to include an approach that uses subjective well-being measurement. Social cost-benefit analysis seeks to express the full social costs and full social benefits of policies in monetary terms. Such estimates can inform options, analysis and business cases.

12 How is well-being data used for policy? Dept of Health’s alcohol strategy against a consideration of national well-being. Civil Service People survey - over 70,000 staff across 5 departments - insights into staff well-being help steer engagement and HR policies. Dept of Work & Pensions is assessing the impact of the Post-Work Programme Support Trailblazer on the well-being of the very-long- term unemployed. Cabinet Office is evaluating the impact of National Citizen Service on the wellbeing of participants.

13 MNW Programme Achievements to Date The UK National Debate has attracted much attention internationally and is being used as an exemplar for other countries. November 2012 MNW published its first Annual Report which included the launch of the ‘well- being wheel’ of measures. A ‘striking work from the ONS’ (The Guardian) The UK is now acknowledged as a world leader in measuring national well-being

14 Who Benefits? 1. Better evidence with which to effect positive change in national well-being 2. More targeted allocation of resources in public (and voluntary) sectors 3. Better understanding of UK well-being in the academic and wider community 4. Enhanced international comparability, reputation and capability for ONS

15 What’s next... Embed the work into ONS business (Mainstreaming) Encourage use of well-being data to inform policy (benefits realisation) Review and refine domains and measures of well-being, including assessment of change Explore innovative ways for presenting well-being data (social media, digital publishing) Continued input on international developments (UN, OECD, EU). The programme will continue to consult widely.

16 Issues and key messages Measuring change General presentation – complexity MNW supplements, not supplants GDP Use for ‘Better policies for better lives’ (OECD). ‘Happiness index’

17 More information

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