Posts Tagged ‘population’

What are the key aspects of well-being?

December 16, 2011

The UK Office of National Statistics is currently consulting on a framework and headline indicators for measuring well-being.  This is an incredibly important development, intended in the long run to provide alternatives to simplistic measures such as GDP.

The consultation tests the assumption that the following domains add up to a sense of well-being (quoted in full because of the importance of this work):

Individual well-being  It is proposed that this domain should include individual’s feelings of satifaction with life, whether they feel their life is worthwhile and their positive and negative emotions. That is, this domain will include only the headline subjective well-being measures to be derived from the new ONS survey data. Subjective measures would be included with objective measures in the other domains.

Our relationships   This was chosen as a domain because it reflects many of the responses received during the national debate and because many theories of well-being report the importance of this area to an individual’s well-being. The scope of this domain is intended to be the extent and type of individuals’ relationships to their immediate family, their friends and the community around them.

Health  Includes areas which were thought to be important by respondents to the national debate.  An individual’s health is recognised as an important component of their well-being. It is anticipated that this domain would contain both subjective and objective measures of physical and mental health.

What we do  Aims to include work and leisure activities and the balance between them, all of which were common themes in the national debate responses. In this domain there are likely to be measures of aspects of work and leisure activities and of work-life balance.

Where we live  Is about individual’s dwelling, their local environment and the type of community in which they live. Measures will be sought which reflect having a safe, clean and pleasant environment, access to facilities and being part of a cohesive community.  ONS has taken Defra advice on the indicators in this area.

Personal finance  Is intended to include household income and wealth, its distribution and stability. Measures within this would also be used during analysis to address the concepts of poverty and equality mentioned in the national debate responses.

Education and skills  Various aspects of education and life-long learning were mentioned during the national debate. The scope of this domain is the stock of human capital in the labour market with some more information about levels of educational achievement and skills.

Governance Democracy, trust in institutions and views about the UK’s interaction with other countries, all of which were included in responses to the national debate, are intended to form the scope of this domain.

The economy  Is an important contextual measure for national well-being. The scope of this domain is intended to be measures of economic output and stock.

The natural environment  Is proposed as a domain in order to reflect areas mentioned during the national debate such as climate change, the natural environment, the effects our activities have on the global environment and natural disasters. It is planned to include measures which reflect these areas at the national level.  ONS has taken Defra advice on the indicators for this area.

If you then look at the measures, the issues become more troubling.  For instance, whilst generic issues such as climate change are referenced, there is no measure around access to greenspace within everyday life – the natural environment is remote.

The fact that there is no reference to culture is deeply problematic given the substantial research in the Nordic countries which demonstrates that participation in cultural activities has an impact on lifespan.

Finally, there is no reference to any spiritual dimension as contributing to well-being, and whilst modern over-developed Western culture is largely secularised, to omit this area is to diminish the scope of the understanding of well-being.

Responses to this survey need to be made by 23rd January 2012.

New Online Maps: Population and Climate Change Hotspots

November 21, 2011

Population Action International’s mapping website shows how climate change and population dynamics will change the world over time. New features on the site include country profiles which contain maps, graphs, videos, and additional resources that offer a closer look at population, gender, and climate change trends in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, and Peru.

High rates of population growth and climate change consequences overlap in many countries. Interactive maps illustrate how climate change impacts, demographic trends and the need for contraception are likely to affect countries’ abilities to adapt to climate change.

The maps identify 26 population and climate change hotspots – countries that are experiencing rapid population growth, low resilience to climate change, and high projected declines in agricultural production. Many hotspots are currently experiencing water stress or scarcity, a condition that will worsen with continued rapid population growth. And in many countries, a high proportion of women lack access to reproductive health services and contraceptives. Investments in family planning programs in these hotspots could improve health and well-being, slow population growth, and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.

The newly-updated interactive mapping website can be viewed here.

The brief guide to the population and climate change hotspots can be downloaded here.

Related themes of population, gender and climate change are highlighted in Population Action International’s new 15-minute documentary film, Weathering Change: Stories About Climate and Family From Women Around the World. The film takes viewers to Ethiopia, Nepal, and Peru to hear the stories of women as they struggle to care for their families, while enduring crop failures and water scarcity. The film shows how women and families are already adapting to the climate change challenges that threaten their health and their livelihoods. As the world’s population hits 7 billion in 2011, the film calls for expanding access to contraception and empowering women to help families and communities adapt to the effects of climate change. The film and related materials can be viewed at http://www.weatheringchange.org


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