Index of Social Health for French Regions (ISH)

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This indicator has been calculated by Florence Jany-Catrice and Rabih Zotti, Clersé (Univ. Lille1)

In line with the works done on theBarometer of Inequalities and Poverty, these authors propose an index of social health. This ISH has been simplified, allowing for easiest interpretations and for comparisons of the different regions. Regular updates of this indicator are planned, enabling the ISS to become an index of the evolution of the territories social health.This indicator aims to take account of the multiple dimensions of social health in various territories. Being applied to French regions in 2004, the ISH shed a new light on the social performances of the districts. The regions recording the worse performances are mostly urban, while others, like the Limousin appears as well performing. Two or three regions remains bas positioned, whatever the indicator observed: in the bottom of the ranking in terms of gross available income per capita, of GDP per capita, the Nord Pas de Calas and Languedoc Roussillon do not present a good social health (measured through the ISH).

The ISH composition

The ISH encompasses the 12 dimensions of the national BIP-40. Each dimension is represented through one or two variables. The variables are chosen according to working group discussions, specially organized in the Nord Pas de Calais. To ensure the availability of all the data, the author suggest comparing the regions on the only year 2004. The different variables have heterogeneous units, the authors have a applied a normalization process of the same type as the one applied for the Human Development Index. This gives rise to a multidimensional indicator, scored between 0 and 100, whose the interpretation is the following : The close the ISH to 100, the better the social health of the territory.


Table : Dimensions, sub-dimensions and selected variables of the ISH

ISH 1.png


One project : inter-regional comparisions of social health

Measuring regional disparities in terms of GDP/capita is a pale reflect of the inter-regional distribution of the economic wealth. Other statistics exist to compare between different French regions. These measures take account of the intra-territorial transfers (in this specifi case, the gross disposable per capita income is preferred), of the inequalities or of the Poverty. By convention, for the sake of tractability, or because data are often parsimonious, most of the statistical institutes tend to retain the rate to monetary poverty as a summary of the major social problems at the territorial level. The measure is however far from being sufficient and feeds numerous debates for many reasons. On the one hand, it is pointed out that using money as a light on poverty is very restrictive; one the other hand, the statistical basis underlying the indicator of money poverty do not sufficiently take account of the income sources, particularly of the patrimony. This lack also results from the fact that the major social problems today are multidimensional and are uneasily reflected by a unique variable.

In order to avoid this mutltidimensional aspect to be considered as a purely intellectual construct, the authors of the ISH have elaborated an innovative experience in the Nord Pas de Calais. At the term of report on inqualities and poverty (realized for the account of the Regional Concil Nord Pas de Calais), heterogeneous groups, gathering association, experts, administrative, have been gathered, giving rise to many discussions on the interpretations that such an indicator as the ISH could enable in the fields of inequalities and poverty. The discussion have been grasped by all the actors of the debates, focusing on the dimensions to take as well as on their relative weights within the indicator.


ISH versus GDP/Capita : significant maps

As illustrated in the two maps below, there are huge differences between the GDP/capita mapping and the ISH mapping. One noticeable fact is that the correlation between these two variables is zero.

ISH 2 GDP Capita.pngISH 3 ISH.png


See also

Progress, Papers and Publications

For exploring another Index of Social Health built in the USA :Insitute for Innovation in Social Policy

Gadrey, J., Jany-Catrice, F.(2005). Les nouveaux indicateurs de richesse, Paris : La découverte, Coll. Repères.

Miringoff, M. Miringoff, M.-L. (1995), “America’s Social Health: The Nation’s Need to Know,” Challenge (Fall 1995) pp.19-24.

Miringoff, M. Miringoff, M.-L. (1999). The Social Health of the Nation: How America is Really Doing,New York: Oxford University Press

Miringoff, M. Miringoff, M.-L. and Opdycke, S. (1996), “The Growing Gap Between Standard Economic Indicators and the Nation’s Social Health,” Challenge (July-August 1996) 17-22.

Miringoff, M. Miringoff, M.-L., and Opdycke, S. (1996), “Monitoring the Nation’s Social Performance: The Index of Social Health,” in : Zigler, E., Kagan, S.L., and Hall, N.W.(1996). Children, Families, and Government: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, New York: Cambridge University Press.