Community Portal February 2011

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Community Portal from the month of February 2011. See this months news and events in the up-to-date Community Portal



Unicef adolescents data: what is the state of the world for teenagers?

Guardian Data Blog 25.02.2011

The latest Unicef state of the world’s children report is out, with a special focus on adolescents. So, how do the world’s teenagers compare?

Children are unambiguously the focus of the millennium development goals (MDGs). But what happens when they grow up? This year, the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) have dedicated their annual flagship report to the world’s 1.2bn teenagers. “In the global effort to save children’s lives, we hear too little about adolescence,” says Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s energetic new executive director. “Surely we do not want to save children in their first decade of life only to lose them in the second.” The State of the World’s Children 2011 produces a snapshot of what the world looks like for its billion-plus teenagers, 88 percent of which live in developing countries.

See Guardian article for more


Community notice board

The community notice board is a place for the community to interact. Feel free to post questions and comments here.

A new OpenSource project is trying a strategy to prevent researcher bias arising from the weighting of indicators for composite indices (alias ‘mashup indices’). It is called Yourtopia and would be very grateful for your critiques, suggestions and participation.


See the section below which contains news articles and blogs that have been released this month.


Special Media Reviews

Pages dedicated to media reviews on particular topics or important events in the measuring progress community. From this month:


Progress in the News

China has set a lower average annual economic growth target of 7 percent for 2011 to 2015, Premier Wen Jiabao has revealed.


The HDI is an attempt to simplify and communicate the complexity of human development using a numerical representation. Yet, there are alternatives to these numerical representations that have not been much explored in the context of the HDI.


I am sure many of you are rejoicing at what the papers had to say yesterday. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is going to shoot up even beyond the 9% we had hoped it would reach. Yippee.


Being happy and cheerful in teen years could be key to greater well being and satisfaction in adulthood, says new research.


New research has found that being a happy teenager is linked to increased well-being in adulthood.


Headline: “Rising China tops Japan as world’s No. 2”. Looks like a big deal. Officially, the news came out of Tokyo two weeks ago when the Japanese government reported its economy shrank at a 1.1% annual rate in 4Q’10, a period when China’s GDP surged 9.8% from a year earlier.


In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel We, the author develops a society where everyone must feel happy. In Zamyatin’s perfectly cheerful world, people subscribe to self-hypnosis by muttering to themselves “I am so happy … so happy”. If citizens do not accept this flawless utopia, the government’s duty is to force happiness upon them.


“Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?” We learned this week that that is one of four new questions being inserted into the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Household Survey as the UK’s official number crunchers try to assess the well-being of the nation.


Life ratings, emotional wellbeing of the unemployed drops after 10 weeks of job searching


Households up and down the country will soon be invited to judge whether they have ‘worthwhile’ lives in the nation’s first ‘wellbeing index’.

By giving well-being a central role in policymaking, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan has staged a trial that has gripped the world. Dipika Chhetri reports on the environmental impacts.


In an attempt to transform the economy, the former king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, ordered the formulation of the theory of GNH – gross national happiness – rather than GDP – gross domestic product in 1972.


In recent months, business leaders been embarking on a new conversation in the U.S. about how our business, government and consumers will meet challenges around the environments, infrastructure, and of course, the economy.


Researchers will soon be able to pinpoint the UK’s saddest borough after the Office for National Statist ics explained how it aims to measure national wellbeing.


Archbishop’s happiness index fearGovernment ‘to measure happiness’ UK households are to be asked how satisfied they are with their lives in survey measuring happiness.


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) will soon begin asking new questions in its regular household survey to establish how satisfied people are with their lives – the latest step in an international move towards assessing national well-being using data outside traditional economic measures.



U.K. households are to be asked to rate their “life satisfaction” as the country’s statistics office seeks to add a measure of well-being to its traditional economic indicators.


Hundreds of thousands of people will be asked whether they think the lives they lead are “worthwhile” as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s wellbeing.


To sustain the benefits of China’s rapid ascension, politicians should broaden their policy goals, writes leading economist Hu Angang, setting out his prescription for a national happiness index.


Economic growth may be an imperfect measure of human progress, but well-being indices are worse, writes Paul Ormerod. They furnish policymakers with misleading data – and an excuse to restrict our liberties.


Tim Jackson is a sustainability adviser to the British government and the author of Prosperity without Growth, a controversial rebuttal of GDP-focused notions of success. He explains his philosophy to Tan Copsey.


This year’s Canadian Organic Growers conference started with author Silver Donald Cameron informing us of Bhutan’s pursuit of Gross National Happiness.


China’s newfound focus on well-being will be useless without wider political reform, writes Tang Hao, as we continue our special series on happiness.


China Dialogue: ‘Happy Guangdong’ initiative tempers single-minded pursuit of economic growth.


Almost half a million people will be asked whether they are happy with their marriages as part of the first official attempt to measure the nation’s “wellbeing”.


Does economic growth improve our lives? Are there better ways to measure welfare? How do GDP and the environment interact? Opening chinadialogue’s week-long series on well-being economics, Sam Geall talks to Cormac Cullinan, an attorney, campaigner and author of a manifesto for earth justice.


Vancouver topped the list of the world’s most liveable cities for the fifth straight year, while Melbourne claimed second place from Vienna and Australian and Canadian cities dominated the list’s top 10 spots.


As the country observes Black History Month, national figures show dramatic uphill changes over the last several decades in the quality of life for black Americans.


China’s new five-year plan period starts in 2011, and local governments across the country are mapping out their own plans. But this year, instead of economic growth, improving people’s happiness is on the top of their agendas.


That age is only a numeral is a well worn phrase made even more popular by the late American singer Aaliyah. But it would seem that when it comes to Arab governments, nothing could be further from the truth.


Locking up law-breakers doesn’t come cheap. In Western Australia, the Auditor General estimates that it costs the state up to $100 million dollars to deal with just 250 young offenders over the course of their lives as juveniles, from 10 to 17 years of age. That’s a whopping $400 000 per child.


Today, 3.5 billion people live in cities across the world and, depending on one’s source, Adelaide is about the 350th largest by population. A niche player by anyone’s measure, predictions are by 2025 there will be 500 cities of greater than one million people.


China Daily reported that China still has a long way to go to improve its economy despite formally overtaking Japan as the world’s second largest economy.


A high quality of life, a vibrant cultural and music scene and a diverse population make Nashville a desirable place to live,” Forbes said of Nashville. “Low housing costs drive down the cost of living, which is even lower than in other affordable cities like Raleigh, Austin or Indianapolis. Nashville is also home to a growing health care industry.”


Illinois Kids Count proponents say the years between birth and age 8 are worth investing in.


Most of the nations atop our list are democratic, business-friendly and boast strong social safety nets.


Statistical agencies use GDP, an inaccurate way that omits vital indicators of future trends.


France will host a meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of 20 nations on Friday and Saturday.


The Index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.


The Irish saying “we live in one another’s shadow” suggests everyone has the capacity to contribute to the wellbeing of society.


If you’re a politician, there are only a couple of ways you can tackle the falling-income problem


The quality of life for Britain’s 21 million people over 50 has worsened in the past year, a new report claims.


China still has a long way to go to improve its economy, despite formally overtaking Japan as the world’s second largest economy, experts said.


It could be that the nature of technological change isn’t causing the slowdown but a shift in values. It could be that in an industrial economy people develop a materialist mind-set and believe that improving their income is the same thing as improving their quality of life.


GNP growth can, of course, be very helpful in advancing living standards and in battling poverty (one would have to be quite foolish not to see that), but there is little case for confusing (1) the important role of economic growth as means for achieving good things, and (2) growth of inanimate objects of convenience being taken to be an end in itself.


The work, by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), is part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s drive to track happiness levels, alongside economic growth measures such as gross domestic product (GDP), as a barometer of national progress.


George MacKerron is the inventor of Mappiness, an iPhone app that collates information from thousands of people to find out when, where and why we are at our happiest


Fathers can shake off their “assistant parent” tag by spending more time with their children without having mothers around.


The more satisfied people, especially those with lower incomes and from poorer nations, are with their country, the better they feel about their lives.


Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore can expect slower growth this year, but that the 4% to 6% growth forecast is still ‘very good’.


Modern psychology shows that a nation’s happiness is, in part, related to the degree of freedom its citizens are afforded.


The more satisfied people are with their country, the better they feel about their lives, especially people in low income groups or in relatively poor countries.


The impressive growth figures of resource-rich African countries are not all good news


In this week’s print edition we ran a table showing a number of indicators for members of the Arab League.


For the past five years the quality of life for Egyptians and Tunisians has deteriorated despite an increase in the GDP, according to the Gallup survey organization.


A sense of community and family relationships are the things that matter most to people’s well-being, according to the Office for National Statistics.


No longer considered to be a rest stop between the Bay Area and Sacramento, Solano County is making its mark as an emerging center for micro business employment and life sciences, although the region faces increasing challenges on education and incomes.


An open access online journal devoted to the study of human wellbeing, co-founded by Victoria University’s Dan Weijers, has been launched to help academics and practitioners’ worldwide better understand what makes people flourish and thrive.


Recently, it’s been announced that Danville may be facing a rather large budget deficit and many people have been speculating on the best way to make those cuts. Some have compared the local city budget to General Motor’s recent turnaround — a turnaround that was actually made possible by a $30 billion federal infusion of bailout funds. Here, locally, we don’t have the benefit of the federal government handouts. We have to make our way on our own.


President Obama defined the “true measure of progress” for America in his weekly address Saturday. Focusing on his goal to “win the future” for the second consecutive week, he turned his attention to recent unemployment numbers and jobs.


When it comes to smartphones these days, if you’re somewhere between a Luddite and a technophile then you’re probably doing OK.


Albanians live longer than Oklahomans.That’s right. The residents of a Balkan state best known to Americans as staunch Soviet allies during the Cold War live longer than the average Oklahoman’s 75.6 years.


Wisconsin’s high quality of life is due in large part to our commitment to providing social services to our citizens.


In the two Middle Eastern countries being rocked by mass uprisings, polling suggests that a general dissatisfaction not tied to economic fortunes might be driving anti-government revolts, the National Journal reports.


Since the Great Recession, it seems as though political discourse adheres to one simple principle: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense


Traditional economic indicators paint an incomplete picture of life in these countries


zIndex find two-thirds of contracted money is unaccounted for.


Once, GDP was the established benchmark of a country’s progress. Now, new and sophisticated indexes offer a more rounded picture of the condition of society — and IDRC is helping develop them.


Amartya Sen, Argumentative Indian, Harvard Professor, Nobel Laureate and formerly Master of Trinity, held forth on the idea of “inclusive growth” in an informal chat with BT several weeks before the CII launched its India Inclusive campaign in Davos.


Through the region’s innovative use of IBM software and services, asthma attacks have been alleviated, a local automobile manufacturing plant diversified into the aerospace industry and 250 tons of waste materials from a road construction project was made into new housing for those who needed it the most.


China Central Television released the results of its recent happiness survey on January 12. The results show that almost 45 percent of more than 80,000 respondents-all Chinese-feel happy or very happy; about 11 percent are not happy.


Blogs on progress

One of the arguments against environmental conservation is that there is an apparent paradox between environmental degradation and human well-being. In short, when viewed through certain lenses (such as the UN’s human development index), human well-being is increasing even as environmental health declines.


Bhutan gives well-being a key role in national policy. In the tiny Kingdom, “happiness” rhetoric is the political norm. The idea of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) is enshrined in official documents, and also used to justify Bhutan’s ambitious environmental policies, China Dialogue has reported.


The former Australian National Party Leader Tim Fischer no doubt will be applauding the efforts of the Conservative UK Government to find an alternative measure of progress to gross domestic product.


A new Unicef report reveals how an invisible generation of adolescents have been overlooked and marginalised in development strategies


There is growing interest amongst governments in measuring and using human well-being to guide policy. New indicators of progress are required to cement this recognition that economic growth is only ever a means to an end, says a report by the New Economics Foundation.


We have heard a lot about improving the public’s sense of well-being from local people’s congresses and people’s political consultative conferences. There have even been proposals in Guangdong and Shanghai to substitute a happiness index for gross domestic product as a yardstick for local development.


As protests continue to rock the brutal dictatorships and petty tyrannies of the Middle East, the Gallup Organization has done some fascinating work on public opinion in the Arab world that sheds some light on these events.


The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is an attempt to measure the real increase in economic welfare.


Some of the Middle East’s star performers on development indicators face popular anger and dissatisfaction. So where does that leave development policy?


The word “junoon” best describes how we the Indian cricket fans feel about cricket. This word conveys much more than what a mere word like “obsession” alludes to.


A statistical hub containing key data from all the countries of the Arab League


Despite the burden of rising food prices it seems Indian shoppers are increasingly cheery about their futures. At least that’s the view of MasterCard’s latest Worldwide Consumer Confidence survey.


Angelo State University researchers study trends.


American mentality gets best of citizens


Lawctopus through a student poll, in its first week questions law students, “Are you happy with your law school life? 312 students casted their vote, which led to reveal 19 percent were not happy with their life at law school.


To some, the title of the new documentary film, “The Economics of Happiness” is an oxymoron that attempts to reconcile “the dismal science” of economics with the rather upbeat topic of human happiness.


It was recently announced that Brazil, which is thought to be one of the most cheerful countries in the world thanks to its carnival and beaches and samba spirit, is considering inserting the phrase “pursuit of happiness” into Article 6 of its constitution.


The country where you live can have a big impact on your life. A new study of people from 128 countries finds that the more satisfied people are with their country, the better they feel about their lives—especially people who have low incomes or live in relatively poor countries.


Since the economic and financial crisis, efforts to promote green growth have been intensifying. The crisis provided the impetus, but green growth is not a short-term response.


The country where you live can have a big impact on your life. A new study of people from 128 countries finds that the more satisfied people are with their country, the better they feel about their lives — especially people who have low incomes or live in relatively poor countries.


New documentary explores why GDP remains the worst possible measure of economic progress


The GDP results for the final quarter of 2010 remain unreliable in charting recovery and progress in Europe, the USA, China, Brazil and most other countries.


Just listened to Claudia Hammond’s BBC programme on happiness. I like Claudia’s reporting and this is a good programme but it still surfs closed to the edge of the Moral Maze debate I took exception to.


In his State of the Union address, President Obama said that we have never measured progress by the yardstick of profits and economy alone, but that we “measure progress by the success of our people, by the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer” and “by the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.”


This week I read about Brazil wanting to amend its constitution to make happiness a right for its citizens.


The PAP Blog has some great charts showing the correlation between high GDP and 17 measures ranging from corruption and poverty to resources and education.


I went to a great conference yesterday organized by the Franco-British Council, on the French and British governments’ new initiatives to measure well-being, in an attempt to try and broaden policy-makers’ focus beyond GDP. Here is a short video of highlights of the conference.


Money isn’t everything. But in measuring the success of nations, it isn’t easy to find a substitute.


In November, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, to help guide national policy, the British government would begin to measure the subjective well-being of its citizens.


SingaporeanS have higher levels of confidence in the country’s future and economy, but a new survey found them concerned about issues such as affordability of public housing and employment opportunities for the elderly and needy.


In his State of the Union address, President Obama said that we have never measured progress by the yardstick of profits and economy alone, but that we “measure progress by the success of our people, by the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer” and “by the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.”


The UK’s economy contracted by 0.5% between October and December 2010 ending a year of growth.


Manfred Max-Neef, the Chilean ecological economist, reminds us that the spectrum from penury to wealth cannot be reduced to a single dimension.



Recently released progress papers and reports [edit]

Call for papers

Call for abstracts – You are cordially invited to submit abstracts for papers to be presented at the International Conference on “Resources, Capital or Personnel? Perspectives on Wellbeing at Work”, to be held at Bournemouth University, UK 20-22 September 2011. Deadline 31 March 2011. More information here.


Call for Abstracts – You are cordially invited to submit abstracts for papers to be presented at the 3rd International Conference of the International Society for Child Indicators to be held at the University of York, UK 27-29 July 2011.


Over 800 delegates from all over the world will convene in York, United Kingdom for the EADI / DSA conference. Delegates will represent development research institutes, international organisations, the European Commission and bilateral donor organisations. These thinkers, leaders and decision-makers will exchange ideas about new values, voices and alliances for increased resilience.


Ideas Economy: Human Potential 2010 (The Economist 15-16th September)

Debate hosted by the Economist Ideas Economy- Human Potential 2010




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