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Saturday, 14th June 2014

UK: Well-being

Source: House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (UK)

From Summary:

In this report we have examined two ongoing Government-sponsored initiatives intended to increase the measurement and use of sustainable development metrics. One is the project by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for ‘Measuring National Well-being’ which aims to identify the state of each of the ‘capitals’ under the three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental (or natural) capital. The other is Natural Capital Committee (NCC) which seeks to address one of those pillars—natural capital....

More than three years after the Prime Minister’s declaration that we should be “measuring our progress as a country not just by our standard of living but by our quality of life”, well- being measures are not yet receiving the same attention as economic ones The ONS work on ‘subjective well-being’—capturing the views of individuals about the satisfaction they get from their lives—is producing valuable new insights into people’s satisfaction with society, our environment and our economy. The process of producing a single headline indicator of well-being, which might be considered alongside GDP, could prompt a useful debate about what matters most to people, but it runs the risk of not being accepted by those who do not agree the weightings given to particular components of well-being. Such a move should not be contemplated until a track-record has been built up and a general consensus and acceptance secured on the appropriate component measures of well-being.

Well-being considerations should increasingly drive policy-making, including ‘nudge’ programmes, as the extent and understanding of well-being data is increased. The so far ‘experimental’ nature of the data, and current gaps in understanding of cause and effect, has prompted Government caution. The Government should begin using the already available data to ‘wellbeing-proof’ existing policy proposals, and set out a clear plan for how and in what circumstances the data should start to be used proactively to identify new policies.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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