This report seeks to take stock of major social monitoring and reporting activities existing in Europe at national as well as supranational levels. While the currently flourishing debate on measuring well-being and progress “beyond GDP” has a strong focus on discussing why ‘new’ sorts of indicators going “beyond GDP” are needed and proposing new measurement, monitoring, reporting or even accounting initiatives, this debate does not always seem to be sufficiently aware and take notice of the many activities, which do already exist.
The activities covered by this stocktaking report are aimed at regular monitoring of as well as reporting on the living conditions and well-being of the population and their changes over time. Social monitoring and reporting activities provide quantitative information and empirically based analytical knowledge on well-being and progress in a single society or groups of societies – like the European Union – to be used for different purposes, including policy making. This report covers activities at national and supranational levels, focusing at comprehensive social reports and monitoring instruments, while monitoring and reporting activities in the field of sustainable development are only partially included.
Providing a systematic overview over the variety of social monitoring and reporting activities currently going on in Europe, turns out to be more than just a pure academic stocktaking exercise. By documenting and allowing better access to this information, the report also aims to establish linkages between past and current activities and to form a more solid fundament for present and future discourses and initiatives in the field of measuring and monitoring well-being and progress. In other words, this stocktaking report is first and foremost to be considered as a contribution to enhance the future measurement of well-being and societal progress ‘beyond GDP’ and to improve respective information infrastructures. To this end, the report does not only seek to identify blind spots at the European map of social monitoring and reporting, but even more aims to present, discuss and assess different approaches as well as to flag “good practices” in the light of the current debate about measuring and monitoring well-being and progress beyond GDP. Based on
the inventory and descriptions of as well as analytical reflections on social monitoring and reporting activities, the final parts of the report also identify common patterns and trends and present suggestions for future improvements and research agendas.
This report is an output of the e-Frame (European Framework for Measuring Progress) project.
e-Frame is a major international project which aims to provide a European framework for the debate over the measure of well-being and progress. The project involves a broad range of activities including conferences and workshops, as well as research and the development of guidelines. It is led by two major European National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), ISTAT (in Italy) and the CBS (in the Netherlands), and includes amongst the partners two other NSIs (the French INSEE and the UK ONS), the OECD, and several universities and civil society organisations. It is funded by the EU FP7 Work Programme.
This report aims to take stock of major social monitoring and reporting activities existing in Europe at national as well as supranational levels. While the currently flourishing debate on measuring well-being and progress “beyond GDP” strongly focuses on discussing why “new” sorts of indicators that go “beyond GDP” are needed and proposes new measurement, monitoring, reporting or even accounting initiatives, this debate does not always seem to be sufficiently aware and to take notice of the many activities that already exist. The most influential report by the “Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress” (Stiglitz, Sen, Fitoussi 2009), for example, seems to largely overlook many of the available approaches, instruments and ongoing activities for measuring and monitoring well-being and the quality of life. Even the long and esteemed tradition of French social reporting –not to mention the social monitoring and reporting activities in many other nations in Europe and beyond – have not been noted by the commission established by the French Government, although these social reporting activities have contributed considerably in terms of measuring and monitoring well-being and social progress within French society beyond economic accounting and GDP (Noll 2011: 114f.).
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Heinz-Herbert Noll, Catrin Berger, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences