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Measuring Well-Being in the UK, Europe and OECD countries

Thursday 20 June 2013

2-6:15 p.m.

London School of Economics and Political Science (map|)

LAK 2.06

2:00-3:15 Erik SchokkaertBeyond GDP. Measuring social progress in Europe|
Abstract. In this paper we study the measurement of social progress. Recently, it has become widely accepted that focusing exclusively on income growth may lead to a too narrow-sighted measure of social progress. People care about other dimensions of life, such as their health, employment, social interactions and personal safety. Moreover, an exclusive focus on income growth remains blind to the distribution of income and well-being in the society. We propose therefore a set of six principles for a richer measure of social progress. In particular, we advocate the use of a measure based on “equivalent incomes”, which satisfies all our basic principles. We discuss and illustrate how an equivalent income approach can be implemented in Europe, using the ESS data for 2008 and 2010.  We find that introducing inequality aversion and including other dimensions in the analysis of social progress leads to a remarkably different perspective on social progress in Europe.

3:30-4:45 Glenn EverettThe UK-ONS Measuring National Well-being Programme|

Abstract. By examining and analysing both objective statistics as well as subjective information, a more complete picture of National Well-being can be formed. Understanding people's views of well-being is an important addition to existing Official Statistics and has potential uses in the policy making process and to aid other decision making.

More information can be found on the web site of the Office of National Statistics, Measuring National Well-Being Programme: www.ons.gov.uk/well-being where there is a link to 'Life in the UK' and the 'Interactive Wheel'.

5:00-6:15 Romina BoariniThe OECD Better Life Initiative: Measuring Well-Being|”.

Abstract. “The OECD Better Life Initiative measures well-being of people living in OECD countries and a few emerging economies. Drawing upon the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, the OECD has identified 11 dimensions as being essential to well-being, from health and education to local environment, personal security and overall satisfaction with life, as well as more traditional measures such as income. These 11 dimensions are explored and analysed in detail in the How’s Life? report, the first attempt at an international level to present the best set of comparable and comprehensive well-being indicators. At the same time, the OECD created the “Better Life Index” to better understand citizens’ aspirations and support policy making to improve the quality of life. The presentation will provide an overview of the method and findings of the Better Life Initiative as well as envisaged next steps”


Erik Schokkaert is Professor of public economics and welfare economics at the Department of Economics of the KULeuven. He chairs the interdisciplinary think tank “Metaforum” of the KULeuven and has been Research Director of CORE (UCLouvain) in the period 2009-2011. His research focuses on the modelling of different concepts of distributive justice and well-being.  He holds the Belgian Chair in the University of London in 2012-13.

Glenn Everett is the Programme Director for the Measuring National Well-being Programme, Office of National Statistics, UK.  He is a career statistician. His career started in the Australian Bureau of Statistics working on range of outputs from social to economic statistics. He moved to UK early 1990s and joined the Government Statistical Service. He was Chief Adviser of Statistics at DTI and at ONS, led the Allsopp Programme and the Neighbourhood Statistics Service, and was the head of National Accounts before becoming Programme Director for Measuring National Well-being in April 2012.

Romina Boarini heads the Monitoring Well-Being and Progress Section of the OECD Statistics Directorate. In this role she is responsible for the statistical work behind the OECD Better Life Initiative, including Your Better Life Index and the report How’s Life? Measuring Well-Being. She previously worked as Economist in the OECD Economics Department and in the OECD Social Affairs and Employment Department. Her research interests include well-being, distributive justice, material deprivation and education.”

Organiser: Luc Bovens, Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, LSE (L.Bovens@LSE.ac.uk)

Acknowledgment: This event is made possible by funding from the Belgian Embassy, the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences (LSE) and the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method (LSE).  The conference is an event in the series offered by the LSE Choice Group.