Community Portal January 2011

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


Global Peace Index – how does each country compare?

Global Peace Index- how does each country compare? Guardian DataBlog

Can you measure peace? The Global Peace Index, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, is a bold attempt to do so.

It’s made up of 23 indicators, ranging from a nation’s level of military expenditure to its relations with neighbouring countries and the level of respect for human rights. The index has been tested against a range of potential “drivers” or determinants of peace—including levels of democracy and transparency, education and national wellbeing. The data comes from various sources, including the International Institute of Strategic Studies, The World Bank, various bits of the UN offices and Peace Institutes and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The index provides a unique insight into peace around the world. Last year’s 2010 data shows that:

• Overall, the world has become slightly less peaceful since 2007, with 62% of countries recording decreases in levels of peacefulness
• The big risers are: Ethiopia, Mauritania, Hungary, Lebanon and Haiti (despite the earthquake)
• Falling are: Cyprus, Russia, Philippines, Georgia and Syria … see the full article

See also the Global Peace Index wikiprogress article

Community notice board [edit]

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

Vietnam has moved up from 77th in 2009 to 61st in 2010 in the quality of life rankings conducted by the London-based Legatum Research Institute.

“We measure progress by the success of our people, by the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer,” the president said Tuesday night.

Households in regional Western Australia are streaking ahead of Perth residents when it comes to financial well-being, according new data released today.

Over 20% of UK office workers are unhappy with their job and over a quarter wouldn’t recommend their employer, new research has suggested.

A new economic paradigm is arising out of the ashes of the global financial crises. Could it take hold?

Open space and education are values that attract people here, and they seem to be factors in our sense of well-being.

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.

When people resolve to work harder, live better, and spend more time on things that truly matter, health and well-being tend to become even more important concerns.

Belarus ranks the 141th place among 192 countries in the international ranking of quality of life. The experts compiled this rating, assessing the cost of living in the country, the development of culture and education, health care quality, the economy, the environment, the possibility of civil rights’ realization, security of life and so on.

A community that assesses its strengths and weaknesses is more likely to make progress than one that doesn’t.

A new metric of human well-being should capture areas such as job security, health and education

Vietnam, equipped with achievements attained in the renewal process during the past 25 years, will surely surmount all challenges that may arise to make bigger accomplishments on the path to becoming a modern industrialised country by 2020 as planned.

The Happiness Initiative was just launched by Sustainable Seattle with an on-line happiness survey designed to provide participants with an evaluation of their personal well-being. The upbeat survey covers nine domains of happiness that were identified by international researchers.

Most of us have seen the bumper sticker: “Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness just doesn’t know where to shop.” It’s an amusing sentiment, but it provokes an important question: What exactly is the relationship between money and happiness?

There will soon be seven billion people on the planet. By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain?

German politicians Monday began investigating ways to gauge the country’s quality of life and prosperity as a way to complement the gross domestic product (GDP) indicator in Europe’s top economy.

Atheists, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims fall behind Jews; Gallup analysis claims “strong positive relationship between religiosity and well-being.”

The role of financial well-being on overall wellness

Any guesses? You may answer right away or you may be wiser and ask: “Best quality of life depending on what…?!” After all, ranking 192 countries (almost every country in the world) based on their quality of life is not a straightforward task!

MVPD releases crimes figures and while felonies decreased misdemeanors presented a mix bag for the year.

Wellbeing gains more apparent in the first half of 2010 than in the second half

Every day there seem to be new doom and gloom stories about the economy. We hear that unemployment is up, house prices are going down and inflation keeps rising. Meanwhile experts speculate on when and how the UK and other countries will escape the recession, and talk about ways of making the economy grow. But is this the only way?

Pakistan is facing great challenges in meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDG) because of changing demographic patterns and their impact on the environment, said Nancy D Lewis of East-West Centre.

“Standard of living” should not equate to “amount of spending”.
When I sat down to write an article on the countries with the highest standard of living, I thought it would be easy. But, how do you define “standard of living”?

A collaborative report by 10News and research group the Equinox Center shows how the tough economy is affecting the quality of life in San Diego County.

Taub Center index reflects signs of economic recovery; haredim have higher- than-average score, despite poverty

The 14.7 per cent rise in Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 is good news for companies and economic recovery. What the average person on the street may wonder, though, is whether that jump made a real difference in their life.

Having a job is more important to people than how much they are paid, according to the first official inquiry into what makes Britons happy.

More than 2,000 people have told Britain’s Office for National Statistics what they want to see in the government’s new happiness index. What matters most, the agency said today, is job security, health and family relationships.

Some world governments are considering a more holistic reflection of a country’s well-being beyond GDP. But it may be a challenge to define what happiness and success is for a whole population.

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

Maybe it’s too early for 1 April, but Malta has just tied with Zimbabwe for first place with the best climate on earth in this year’s Quality of Life Index, published last week in International Living magazine.

In a time of tight budgets and financial crisis, politicians nowadays look to economic growth as the center piece of their domestic policy programs.

If earning $75,000 a year is the key to happiness — unless, of course, you earn less than the median income in your profession — here’s another measure of well-being: whether you can afford to live in a good school district.

Since happiness is what people want the most, the primacy accorded to economic growth would appear to be a mistake.

A global study finds that the people you share a household with have a profound impact on your wellbeing in five key dimensions

The quality of living for Vietnamese was not high, but it was gradually increasing, said Do Ngoc Tan, head of the Department of Population and Family Planning.

South Korea has reached a per-capita GDP of US$20,000, while its economy is the world’s 13th largest, but South Koreans are far from happy. According to a Gallup poll, the number of South Koreans who are happy about their lives decreased 10 percent between 1992 and 2010 when the country’s per-capita GDP grew threefold.

If the coming year looks utterly grim you are probably French, or at least from Europe. If the prospects of 2011 fill you with hope you may be from Nigeria, Vietnam or even Afghanistan.

Ireland has one of the worst levels of social justice of all OECD member states, ranking 27th out of 31 countries in a new German study.

Established at the beginning of each year by Irish magazine International Living, the Quality of Life Index 2011 ranked Tunisia 69th with a score of 60 points, the same as that obtained by 7 other countries including Morocco, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

It is hard to believe that there is a government that discourages its citizens from going to college, but Korea is such a country. A year ago, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said Korea needs fewer universities for the sake of its economy. His faith remains firm in the New Year.

Property owners and savers are behaving in a way that undermines the UK’s recovery.

International Living has just published its annual Quality of Life Index for 2011. The Index ranks most countries in the world (192) in nine different categories to come up with overall ratings for their comparative qualities of life.

Consider one conundrum in American politics. Income inequality has been increasing, according to standard statistics. Yet most Americans do not seem very perturbed by it.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith Friday said the forces of youth and juveniles will have to be mobilised through scouting for the wellbeing of the society and the nation, reports UNB.

We can blame the Babylonians for the notion of New Year’s resolutions. About 2,500 years ago, they resolved at the start of the new year, which fell sometime in March or April on their lunar calendar, to return all borrowed farm equipment.

Blogs on progress

A new film, The Economics of Happiness by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick & John Page puts a new spin on the wellbeing economics debate by looking through the lens of localism.

How do you measure progress? Count simply the economic growth numbers? Or something more? Are people in richer countries necessarily happier? If not, what’s the key to real progress that makes people better economically, environmentally and socially?

KIDS COUNT overall rank – Massachusetts now ranks #5 in the nation on overall indicators of child well-being. When this report was created In April 2001 the state ranked in the top 10%, yet, according to this 216 page report the problems in the state fall exactly along the lines the United Nations reported in their 2010 report card on child well-being among the globe’s 24 richest nations with the United States having nearly the widest gap between rich and poor.

Public bodies and NGOs, including Forward Scotland (now Future Balance), Friends of the Earth, WWF, Oxfam, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, unanimously condemn the use of GDP as the primary indicator of prosperity.

The Quality of Life Index results for 2011 via International Living magazine.The countries are chosen by calculating scores using these nine categories: Cost of living, culture, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety and climate.

We here at SomerStat/ResiStat have been working on a city-wide survey of well being, which will ask some unique questions about happiness.

The concept of happiness has long been debated. Are there things that actually make us happy? Or is it an attitude or perspective that comes from within?

192 countries ranked and rated to reveal the Best Places to Live. Established at the beginning of each year by Irish magazine International Living, the Quality of Life Index 2011 ranked Ukraine 73d internationally, a slot it shares with South Africa, Botswana, Tunisia, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, Namibia, as well as Trinidad and Tobago.

Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) may be the alternative we need to the traditional Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to Richard Easterlin, counterintuitively, wealth beyond a certain amount does not make us happier, as once we’ve achieved a reasonable degree of financial security, our basic needs are met and sense of well-being does not continue to improve with greater income. Justin Wolfers debunks this stating that “the world really is as simple as the rest of us thought all along… rich people are happier than poor people.” Wolfers applies these finding to his call for greater economic development of poor countries.

Challenges lie in store for the government’s otherwise welcome drive to measure happiness. Greater consumption is now known not to be the answer, but neither is encouraging a fraught atmosphere in times of austerity.

Don’t believe the Corporatocracy hype: despite lower incomes and wealth, the lower velocity life is leading to richer life experiences and, ultimately, the same level of happiness as before. At least that’s part of the findings in a paper recently published by Yew-Kwang Ng, of the Dept. of Economics at Monash University.

As 2010 draws to a close, we could safely argue that it has been another economically perplexing year for Australia and the world at large.

Tim Brodhead is one of Canada’s intellectual leaders and most accomplished activists. He is also President and CEO of the JW McConnell Family Foundation and co-founder of Social Innovation Generation (SiG). Here is his response to the question: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible – the complete collection of 58 essays including Tim’s.

David Cameron has recently announced and, due to widespread scepticism, defended the coalition government’s decision to introduce a national £2m government funded ‘happiness-index’, to gauge the happiness of the British people.

American Jews scored the highest of any religious group on a “well-being” index even though more than half of Jews are nonreligious, according to a new Gallup survey.

Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, put the pursuit of happiness as one of the unalienable rights for human beings, on a par with life and liberty.

Prospects for adoption of a national Renewable Portfolio Standard appear to have dimmed for the foreseeable future. That is at least the prevailing opinion among respondents to the recent BIO/Biofuels Digest “11 Hot Trends for 2011” survey. Fully 41 percent of respondents predicted that Congress would not bring up a new energy bill in 2011.

In 1991, the author Michael Frayn wrote a book, A Landing on the Sun, about a British prime minister who tasked his advisers with looking into happiness and what the government could do to promote it. The prize proved elusive, the adviser went mad and died.

We are now beginning to talk about happiness and well-being in their proper sense, and not in the material terms we are accustomed to using. The idea of measuring the levels of happiness in different countries was developed by Nic Marks, a researcher at the NEF (The New Economic Foundation) in London with a degree in management, a passion for statistics, human psychology and the environment.

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 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

The Multidimensional Poverty Index

This is more of a back and forth than a debate. The subject is the recently launched Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Duncan Green, renowned blogger for the Oxfam blog From Poverty to Power, gives a brief overview of the new index. World Bank research director, Martin Ravallion criticizes the MPI for two key reasons, firstly the aggregation of indicators to a single index and secondly the choice of weights for the index. Finally Sabina Alkire, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and co-creator of the Index, defends her work and responds to both previous posts. For further background information, see Multidimensional Poverty Index


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