Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The UK leads the way on well-being

This post is brought to you by guest blogger the new economics foundation (nef).

The UK's ever-growing well-being data set will prove hugely important for future policy making.

As of today, the UK is the proud owner of the biggest official well-being data set for any single country within a single year.  With around 80,000 respondents answering the well-being questions in the Office of National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey for 2011, we’ve just pipped Ecuador’s Survey of Employment, Unemployment, and Sub-employment to top spot*. And we’re just at the beginning – in July this year, the Office of National Statistics will release data for around 200,000 respondents on well-being.

These data are providing a unique opportunity to really understand what determines well-being and how it changes over time.  Already, this information will allow policy-makers and those whose role it is to hold government to account to identify policies that will be beneficial to well-being and avoid those that will be harmful to it. Over time, as year-on-year data emerges, we’ll be able to get an incredibly rich picture of how the recession is impacting different sectors of society. ‘Average’ life satisfaction may still be 7.4 for the UK, but what is happening below the headline?

The actual raw data from the Annual Population Survey has not been published today – that will come out in four to six weeks.  But already, the overall figures reveal some interesting stories.

Firstly, whilst London may be the richest region in the UK, and one of the richest cities in the world, it is also the region with the lowest levels of life satisfaction (7.2 out of 10 compared to the UK average of 7.4 out of 10), and the highest levels of anxiety. Meanwhile Northern Ireland has the highest levels of life satisfaction.

Secondly, the results show support for the idea of redistributing employment.  Whilst the unemployed have the lowest levels of well-being (6.5 out of 10), people in part-time work were marginally happier than those in full-time work.  Further analyses will need to be done on the raw data to unpick how income, wealth, and household composition shape this outcome, but it suggests that reducing working hours reduced rather than laying off staff may sometimes be a well-being effective way to deal with the economic crunch in some contexts.

Lastly, it is worth highlighting the special place of that fourth question in the survey: “do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?”  Until the raw data is publicly available, we can’t fully unpick what this question is doing, but already an interesting finding has come out –people with children score higher specifically on this question. If we believe that people’s well-being is more than just about satisfaction or happiness, this will be an important one to watch.

* Ecuador’s survey in 2007 covered 76,922 respondents, and included questions on happiness, life satisfaction and satisfaction with domains.

Gender equality ranking – clear winners and losers?

This post first appeared on Gender Debate

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report measures gender inequality in various nations by focusing on the gaps between men and women in the economic, political, educational and health spheres.

Four critical areas of gender inequality are considered, which are economic participation (wages, participation levels, access to high-skilled employment), educational attainment, political empowerment and health outcomes.

Here are the top 5 most and least equal countries, according to the newest measurement for the year 2011 (Global Gender Gap Report 2011).

Countries with the most gender equality: Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland.

Countries with the least gender equality: Yemen, Chad, Pakistan, Mali and Saudi Arabia.

This global ranking is, however, somewhat obscure, because the contribution of the different areas of gender inequality is not evident at first sight. A closer look at the composition of the index shows that while 90 percent of gaps in life expectancy and access to education have been closed worldwide, women continue to lag behind men particularly at work and in politics.

Especially in developing regions, women work as many working hours as men, even when having children, but women tend to work more than man in precarious and informal work. They are overrepresented as contributing family workers, especially in the agricultural sector, while men tend more than women to work in the industrial sector and in high status jobs (employers, managerial positions…). Thus, women generally face lower job quality than men.

For more information about gender occupations by sector and by status in developing countries, see related article on this blog: How about gender equity in employment in developing countries?

The main consequence of the gender difference in occupations is that women generally earn less than men. Even in highly developed countries, there still exists a significant wage gap between men and women when considering hourly wages. Hence, women are less covered by social security and more exposed to poverty, especially at older ages – a trend which is generally known as the ‘feminization of poverty’.

For further information about the gender wage gap, see related article on this blog: Reducing the gender wage gap – how to tackle the task?

Finally, all over the world women are significantly less represented in politics. Women’s share in parliaments stays remarkably low even in many developed countries.

See following articles on this blog for more information about women in parliaments: Economists for gender quotas in parliaments./ Women’s legal rights – progress and backlashes.

Women’s share in parliaments is particularly low in France, for example. This is why the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index ranks Germany much better than France. However, concluding that women are generally less discriminated in Germany than in France would be rather premature, as, for example, the employment composition of the index does not account for working hours. The full time equivalent employment rate for women is much higher in France than in Germany (55% against 45%). The fact that total fertility rates are also significantly higher in France than in Germany (2,1 against 1,3 children per women on average in 2011) suggests that women with children succeed much better to combine work and family life in France than in Germany – an aspect that is neglected by the Gender Gap Index.

For more information about the gender gap index in France and Germany, see the following related article on this blog: Gender Gap Index: Gender equality much higher in Germany than in France!?

Friday, 24 February 2012

The week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal    

Beyond the Arab Spring
The UNDP’s second Arab Development Challenges report has warned that democracy is not enough. The report emphasises that if region's economic woes aren't competently dealt with, desired democratic transition in the Arab world will fail.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Arab Spring

On youth unemployment
This short video shows youth unemployment rates in the UK and highlights an innovative approach taken by the National Statistics Office.

On gender equality
Growing lists of U.N. Security Council Resolutions acknowledge the marginalisation of women in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning and reconstruction. President of the Global Vision Institute calls on the U.N to make better use of resources and argues that gender equality can forge a stronger and more balanced configurations for peace.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on the role of women in conflict resolution and peace building

On progress
Beyond GDP (Earth Debates 22.02.2012)
This week, Earth Debates hosted an online forum and asked Beyond GDP- how can we measure progress? The panel of experts included Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation, Emiliy Benson of the Green Economy Coalition and Hannah Ryder senior UK government economist.

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,
Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Update on progress from Wellbeing Wales

Ah, February, Mon amour. The month of all things heart shaped and chocolate coated. But it does appear that there is a whole lot more than love in the air this month. According to China Dialogue, air pollutant levels in the counties capital, Hong Kong, are extortionately high with roadside pollutant levels exceeding government targets a ‘record-breaking 20% of the time’. Various outlets have been blamed for the escalating levels. Schemes to reduce the carbon emissions of new vehicles have been met with some success but any benefits have been counteracted by the failure to ensure that the ‘oldest and most polluting’ vehicles are taken out of service. Lack of solid government policy on the issue as well as there being no ‘appropriately qualified government body responsible for measuring or preventing the public health impacts of air pollution’ have also been blamed for the escalating levels. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that poor air quality will have a detrimental effect on Hong Kong’s economic, environmental, and physical and mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps it’s time all agencies, be they governmental, environmental, manufacturing or health, got together and put their differences to one side and started working together to clear the air, for everyone’s sake.

It appears that February is not just a time for love-struck couples to get together. In early February the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics got together with several key thinkers in the field of wellbeing to answer the tricky question: is economic growth essential for wellbeing? Speakers, including Professor Tim Jackson, nef’s Anna Coote, and David Skelton from Policy Exchange, tackled the question head on through a mixture of presentations and Q&A’s. The discussion is available in audio format on NEF’s website and makes for interesting listening. Whilst each speaker brought differing approaches to the table, all were unanimous in the belief that there is ‘much more to well-being than economic growth’.

There’s no doubt that the arts and creative industries have suffered significantly under the wielding axe of government cuts. However, if you look closely enough you may find arts projects popping up in the most unlikely of places. The Guardian reports how wards and atriums of hospitals in central Manchester became a hub of all things creative in February with a week-long series of events ‘aimed at promoting health and wellbeing through exposure to art and culture’. Culture Shots is a pioneering scheme between local artists, performers and the Central Manchester NHS trust. Patients and staff were treated to live performance pieces, the chance to take and develop their own photographs and the opportunity to sit for portraits as well as many other interactive events. As well as increasing patient and staff wellbeing, the benefits of art and culture focused projects are thought to have a positive impact on patient’s health and recovery also. Wendy Gallagher, arts and health programme manager at the Whitworth gallery and Manchester Museum, suggests how evidence indicates that ‘if there's an activity taking place during a person's stay in hospital it can reduce the need for analgesia’. It would be interesting to see if other trusts take up the mantle set by Manchester and start using art to recognise the people behind the patient.

 This post was written by Wellbeing Wales

Friday, 17 February 2012

The week in review

The week in review 17.02.2012
Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review -- a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the  Wikiprogress Community Portal   

On Big Data
Digital signals and global pulse (UN Global Pulse 15.02.2012)
For the first time in history, Big Data allows us a real time understanding of a negative trend as it is happening and enables us to inform policies to help prevent harm before it’s too late.

On child well-being
New Report: A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling child malnutrition. What are the causes of malnutrition, the solutions, and the politics? This new report by Save the Children sets out six steps to tackle the crisis.
See more and contribute to Wikichild Child Well-being Portal

On Amartya Sen
Sen, the moral universalist  (The Hindu 15.02.2012)
Amartya Sen was awarded The United States National Medal of Arts and Humanities earlier this week. He is the first non-American to receive the rare award.  Of his many achievements, Prof. Sen has been recognised for his role in driving the movement of human development and well-being measures.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress

On the cost of living
The cost of living across the globe  (The Economist 13.02.2012)
The Economist Intelligence Unit has released the findings of the latest worldwide cost of living survey, identifying the world’s most expensive city to live in. And the winner is…. Zurich, followed closely by Tokyo and Oslo.
See more on progress by country on the interactive Wikiprogress world map

On progress
Why profit-led growth is a myth  (The Guardian 14.02.2012)
In an analysis of the recently released World of Work Report 2011: Making markets work for jobs  by the International Labour Organisation, Guardian blogger Jayati Ghosh demonstrates how profit-led economic strategy doesn’t work; she argues that the world needs is job-based growth.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on employment rates

On gender equality
Online discussion: Empowering Rural Women

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us  @Wikiprogress  or post it on our  Facebook page 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wikigender asks: how can social networks foster gender equality?

From 3 until 10 February, Wikigender hosted its first online discussion on: “How can social networks foster gender equality?

Numerous examples were given of web 2.0 platforms that help girls and women to feel more included in discussions that matter to them, giving them a sense of belonging to a specific community. The wealth of information offered by those online social networking platforms is not only easily accessible by those who have an Internet connection, but also easily spread. This opens many doors, from career counselling and career building to campaigns to advance gender equality, strategies to cope with poverty, best practices and more. All in all, comments reinforced the idea of online social networks acting like a “technological booster” that empowers women and girls in many ways.

Comments however also reflected the rhetoric of current global inequalities, with only 30% of the population digitally included. What about the 5 billion people that do not have access to the Internet? What about women in rural areas who are unable to view videos on YouTube in some countries due to insufficient bandwidth? Even if other technologies such as mobile phones are becoming increasingly cheap and therefore more available in developing countries, helping women to balance their family and work responsibilities, this does not mean that they have access to those social networks and therefore to the information. Therefore, within the digital divide and “access” issues, one needs to consider also the “gender divide”: women and girls need to build their capacity in using online social networks more efficiently, and they need to be involved in the early design and deployment stages of new technologies so that these technologies respond adequately to their needs. Sometimes, women and girls simply need to be informed of the existence of such social networks, as it is not always the case, and they should be trained in differentiating good information from bad information, as social media can also have adverse effects.

To access all the comments and read the full summary of the discussion, please visit this page. If this online discussion inspired you to create an article, click here!

To continue on the question of empowering women and fostering gender equality, the Wikigender Team invites you to participate in a new online discussion on: “Equal rights to resources: the key to empowering rural women. But what's stopping it?” – the outcomes of the discussion will be presented at a side event during the 56th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which focuses on the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. Contribute until Wednesday 22 February and get your point across!

By Estelle Loiseau 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The week in review

The week in review 09.02.2012
Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review -- a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the  Wikiprogress Community Portal      

On subjective well-being
Bronwyn Bare, a nurse working in palliative care in Australia has recorded the most common regrets of the dying: first on her blog, Inspiration and Chai and more recently in her book: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, (Balboa Press, 2011).  Her findings from conversations with people in their last 12 weeks of life have resonated strongly with current discussions on subjective well-being.

See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on Subjective Well-being

On peace
Measuring Peace in the Media (VOH 03.02.2012)
For the second year, the Institute for Economics & Peace and Media Tenor have jointly analysed global television networks coverage of peace and violence issues. The report found that the only two networks which were either 50% accurate or more were SABC News @ One and ABC World News with 56% and 50% accuracy, respectively.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Global Peace Index

On Revolution 2.0
Wael Ghonim on Egypt's uprising (The Economist 07.02.2012)
One of the most recognised faces of the Arab Spring, activist and Google executive Wael Ghonim, speaks to the Economist about the role the Internet played in bringing down the Mubarak regime and what the future holds for Egypt.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Arab Spring

On gender equality
Women, Girls and ICTs (Wikigender debate)
This week Wikigender hosted its first online discussion on the role that access to ICTs can play in promoting opportunities for women and girls.  Direct discussion comments and comments from Twitter all leaned towards the added value of social networks in empowering women and girls.
Have your say: contribute to the Wikigender online discussion until Friday 10 February! A summary of the discussion will then be posted on Wikigender.

Report releases:
Two report released this week caught our eye:
Multidimensional Poverty Analysis – Looking for a Middle Ground , February 2012, Francisco Ferreira and Maria Ana Lug, World Bank Development Research Group Poverty and Inequality Team & Latin American and the Caribbean Region, Office of the Chief Economist

Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 , February 2012, UNDP

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us  @Wikiprogress  or post it on our  Facebook page

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New UN report on resilient people and planet

This week, Wikiprogress is highlighting a very full report which came out recently from the UN Secretary General High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, “Resilient People, Resilient Plant: a future worth choosing” chaired by the Presidents of Finland and South Africa.

The report is written for a child born this year who will come of age in 2030 in an effort to explain how we got to this point in 2012 and how the Panel recommends to fix it.

The report is broken out into three big sections:

1) Empowering people (gender equality, human rights)
2) Transforming the global economy (green growth)
3) Strengthening Institutions (sustainable development goals, a framework for measuring progress)

Below are just a few recommendations that jumped out at me while reading. There are 56 recommendations in total to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy “as quickly as possible”.
1) There is a real emphasis in this report on getting policy makers at all levels to make decisions for the long term rather than the short. Interesting considering panel is full of politicians (or their senior ministers/advisors). There is a recommendation for an “incentive road map” in terms of the wins predicted along the way if we plan for sustainability. This is a good idea. I wish they would call it something else though. The term “road map” immediately conjures images of bureaucracy. They  could call it “Incentive Alley” or something. Though, that makes it sound like a Broadway show.

2) Fight for gender equality because without it there can be no sustainability. Nice to see this spelled out so clearly in a report that isn’t about gender equality but rather about sustainability. A lot of these reports make an e f f o r t at gender mainstreaming but in this one it seems almost effortless.

3) Create Sustainable Development Goals (the recommend progress metrics alongside absolute goals, incorporate near term benchmarks, and covering all countries in the world) AND a common framework to measure progess. These are two separate issues with different recommendations in this report though with obvious overlap. I think it is good that the goals are separated from the indicators in this paper; however, the tone of it all seems to be very top down. It will be impossible to come up with universal indicators as there is no one size fits all indicator. This is a criticism of the current MDGs as well.

4) Pull everyone out of their silos of expertise and create a new language of progress. For too long, economists, social activists and environmental scientists have simply talked past each other”. Yes, we have heard that one many many times before but nothing seems to change there. The Panel are calling for a new order so that we can finally pass the test that the earth is giving us on “the capacity of the planet to sustain us”. 

The Panel includes high level representatives from Finland, South Africa, The United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico, Sweden, Mozambique, Korea, Japan, Denmark, Spain, India, United States, Australia, Barbados, Brazil and China.

Angela Hariche

Monday, 6 February 2012

Davos: African economies essentially rely on women

This post by Angela Luci first appeared on Gender Debate.

Guinea’s president Alpha Condé, who came to this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos before participating at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, discusses the crisis of capitalism and new business models for Africa. He sees giving women better access to micro-credits and therewith enhancing their economic empowerment as a major step towards more economic and social development in Africa.


Alpha Condé said to “Le Monde”:

“L’Afrique a des problèmes très concrets. La base de notre développement c’est l’agriculture : il faut d’abord donner à manger. L’énergie est aussi un problème, car sans énergie on ne peut pas développer un pays. L’éducation, la santé, le rôle des nouvelles technologies. En Afrique, nous devons essayer de mettre en commun notre politique pour l’énergie, les infrastructures, le commerce intérieur. […] Il faut donner une nouvelle image de l’Afrique. Une des tares de l’Afrique, qu’on nous reproche beaucoup, c’est la corruption. Il faut d’abord agir sur la gouvernance,  appliquer la transparence, et que les ressources de l’Afrique profitent réellement aux populations africaines, particulièrement aux femmes et aux jeunes. […] L’économie africaine, pour l’essentiel, repose sur les femmes. L’homme peut  émigrer, laisser les enfants, mais la femme est obligée de rester pour donner à manger aux enfants. Ensuite, les femmes sont plus honnêtes. Quand vous donnez du micro-crédit, le taux de remboursement chez les femmes est de 90 %. Le développement de certains secteurs, comme l’artisanat, repose sur les femmes. Notre objectif c’est de transformer  le secteur informel productif en PME. Les femmes sont plus honnêtes, plus sensibles, plus travailleuses, mais elles n’ont pas assez accès au crédit. »

“Africa has very concrete problems. The basis of our development is agriculture: it is first necessary to have enough food resources. Energy is also a problem because without energy you cannot develop a country. Education, health and new technologies also play an important role. In Africa, we must try to harmonize our policy for energy, infrastructure and internal trade. [...] We must give a new image to Africa. One of the flaws of Africa we are accused of is corruption. We must first develop governance, apply transparency, and make sure that the resources of Africa actually benefit the African people, especially women and young people. [...]
The African economy essentially relies on women. Man may emigrate and leave children, but women are obliged stay to raise their children. In addition, women are more honest. For micro-credits, the reimbursement rate for women is 90%. The development of certain sectors, such as handicrafts, is primarily based on women. Our goal is to transform the productive informal sector into small and medium businesses. Women are more honest, more sensitive, harder working, but they do not have enough access to credit.”

Related articles on this blog:

Friday, 3 February 2012

The week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal .    

On wikis
2012 Top 100 NGOs: #1 Wikimedia Foundation (The Global Journal 26.01.2012)
The Wikimedia Foundation is best known for its most famous initiative, Wikipedia. The Foundation operates under the belief that information is a not-for-profit commodity; the Wikimedia Foundation has been instrumental to the global phenomenon of user-generated content and the mass sharing of information.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on wikis

On growth and development
Sustainable Humanity (Project Syndicate 31.01.2012)
Developmental Economist Jeffrey Sachs calls for the mobilisation of new technologies shaped by social values in ensuring sustainable development incorporates equality in economic growth and protection of natural resources.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on sustainable development

On measuring progress
The OECD recently produced the video, How’s Life: Measuring Progress – asking experts, “What well-being and sustainability measures are needed to go ‘Beyond GDP’”?
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Better Life Initiative

On social development
UN Commission on Social Development kicks off with focus on poverty and youth (UN News Centre 02.02.2012)
In 2011 there were 75 million youths without a job; UN figures show that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Over the next 10 days the UN Commission on social development will focus on youth unemployment, poverty eradication and socially inclusive policies.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on employment rates

On gender equality
Land rights for women can help ease India’s child malnutrition crisis (Guardian 20.01.2012)
India has developed significantly over the past decade; however malnutrition rates are among the worst in the world with 45% of children under 5 suffering from malnutrition. New research shows that allowing women ownership of the land they farm could drastically reduce these figures.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on access to land

In the Spotlight: UN High Level Panel Report on Global Sustainability - Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing (United Nations 30.01.2012)

A 22-member Panel was established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity. The Panel's final report, "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing", contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.
Read more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on sustainable development.

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us  @Wikiprogress  or post it on our  Facebook page

Yours in progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Social media for anticorruption: lessons from the trenches

This post first appeared on the UNDP Voices from Eurasia blog.

Real time map of trends on Twitter

As anticipated in a previous post (Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block), we have been putting quite a lot of thought into the use of social media for anticorruption in our region.

How can we use social media to capitalize on existing efforts by ordinary citizens and NGOs to enhance accountability of public institutions? How can we harness the amount of information concerning corruption scandals and maladministration shared on the Internet by the independent websites, media and bloggers? How can we move beyond the hype of well publicized cases to get into the mechanics of what works and doesn’t work?

We quickly came to the conclusion that the most useful contribution we could make to the debate was to provide some in-depth case studies focusing on the experiences of those who are working “in the trenches” – from the Georgian version of FixMyStreet to Moldova’s crowdsourcing platform, from an in-depth look  at the work of celebrated Russian blogger Alexey Navalny to the use of Ushahidi to monitor elections in Kyrgystan.

In addition to case studies, the report contains a review of the growing literature on the topic of social media for transparency and identifies three emerging models of implementation (information sharingcrowdsourcing and crowd-to-community).

Perhaps more importantly, the report focuses the attention on some criteria than can be identified as a predictor of success for social media for anticorruption efforts, based on the experience of the practitioners interviewed. These include, for instance, a well established reputation in the field, the use of cross-media promotion (going beyond online), and, importantly, citizen reporting – including NGO verification and the involvement of public authorities.

The report is meant to be a live document, to be updated as we come across new experiences in the region (See: Social media for anticorruption: from “why” to “how to” and Ushahidi comes to Kyrgyzstan) and, equally importantly, to test our own findings through projects on the ground. So watch this space for updates.

We warmly welcome commentscritics and contributions to make this study as useful as possible to practitioners and organizations working in the area of anticorruption and public transparency.