Friday, 30 May 2014

The Role of Science and Technology for Wellbeing - Join the discussion!


The Role of Science and Technology for Wellbeing

from 3 June 9:00 until 18 June 22:00 (GMT) 

La OCDE Centro de México, El Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico, el Seminario Satisfacción Subjetiva con la Vida y la Sociedad (SAVISO)-UNAM-IIS, Ethos Laboratorio de Política Públicas, Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos, and Wikiprogress, Wikiprogress América Latina 
invite you to join this discussion

This will be a unique opportunity to reflect and exchange best practices, research and experiences on this topic with a focus on the following questions:

  •  In Latin America, what is the link between science and technology and people´s wellbeing?
  •  How can science and technology impact people´s wellbeing?
  • What efforts can be made to achieve a closer link between the scientific and technological development and people´s wellbeing?
  • Provide examples in Latin America of this link between science and technology and people´s wellbeing as well as examples of public policies and strategies applied for this purpose?

We invite you to leave your comments in Spanish, English, Portuguese or French in the section entitled “Contribuye” of the discussion webpage. To participate, click here.

Here is the link to the page: and theTwitter hashtags are #CienciaYTecnologia and #Cienciasional

For more information we invite you to contact us at:

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe

In this guest blog, Heinz-Herbert Noll and Catrin Berger of the German Social Indicators Research Centre of GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, present the results for the e-Frame project to conduct a comprehensive stocktaking of social monitoring and reporting initiatives, leading to a report, a new web portal and an online database.

As part of the EU FP7 project e-Frame – European Framework for Measuring Progress the German Social Indicators Research Centre (ZSi) of GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences has taken stock of social monitoring and reporting activities currently going on in Europe. The results are available in terms of a “Stocktaking Report on Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe” (Noll/Berger 2014) as well as an online-database, which is accessible via a new web portal “Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe”.

The stocktaking covers social monitoring activities in terms of well-being indicator sets or indicator systems and composite indices of well-being as well as social reporting activities in terms of comprehensive social reports and reports that at least cut across various life domains. Also included are relevant current projects and initiatives addressing well-being, progress and sustainable development issues. Activities in the field of sustainable development are only taken into account as far as issues of “social sustainability” are covered. The focus is clearly put at activities at supranational and national level, activities at sub-national levels, like regions or local communities, are not taken into account.

The Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe – Database resulting from the stocktaking work provides basic information on ca. 230 activities as yet and will be continuously updated in the future. For each activity the database provides information on the following a number of characteristics.

A web-interface allows easy and comfortable online access to the database via different search options, which allow users to make use of a free text search tool or to search by selecting specific countries, groups of countries, supranational institutions and types of activities by clicking boxes in various dropdown lists. There is also an option available to select countries via an interactive map.

Stocktaking Report on Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe
The “Stocktaking Report on Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe” (Noll/Berger 2014) provides a systematic overview of the variety of social monitoring and reporting activities currently going on in Europe, focusing on comprehensive reports and monitoring instruments. It covers activities at (supranational) European Level as well as national activities in 32 European countries grouped in four European regions (Northern, Western/Central, Southern, Eastern Europe). The report not only seeks to identify blind spots at the European map of social monitoring and reporting, but even more discusses different approaches and highlights “good practices”. By documenting and allowing better access to this sort of 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, the report is first and foremost considered as a contribution to enhance the future measurement of well-being and societal progress 'beyond GDP' and to improve respective information infrastructures. The final parts of the report explore common patterns and trends and present suggestions for future improvements and research agendas.

Among the various findings, the report underlines that there are very few countries left in Europe without any social monitoring or reporting activities and that there is a remarkable degree of similarity concerning the coverage of certain life domains. Despite several similarities the report identifies however also many important differences between the various activities, especially in regard to the general aims as well as the degree and kind of conceptual underpinning and not least the underlying notions of well-being. The report also identifies strengths and weaknesses of social monitoring and reporting activities depending on the institutional background and responsible actors such as governments, national statistical bureaus or research institutes. Finally the report discusses issues that are relevant for future developments and improvements in measuring societal progress 'beyond GDP', regarding the content as well as methodological approaches of social monitoring and reporting activities, the use of composite indices, the relationship between well-being and sustainability, now- and forecasting, harmonization vs. diversity, innovation and continuity and last but not least, networking and collaboration.

Web portal “Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe”
The GESIS – Web-portal “Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe”, which is also an outcome of the e-Frame project, aims to present and showcase various sorts of information related to social monitoring and reporting activities in Europe at national as well as supranational levels. This web portal does not only provide access to the stocktaking report and online database mentioned before, but also provides online access to instruments for monitoring well-being and progress and publications related to social reporting in Europe. The web portal also informs regularly on new releases of social reports, conference announcements and recent events, projects, and any other significant news in the fields of European social monitoring and reporting.

Noll, Heinz-Herbert and Catrin Berger (2014): Stocktaking Report on Social Monitoring and Reporting in Europe. E-Frame Project, Deliverable D5.2. Gesis, Social Indicators Research Centre, Mannheim.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Wellbeing gains significance in German policymaking

This post by Christian Kroll of Bertelsmann Stiftung gives weight to the view that it's time for research on happiness and life satisfaction to be more systematically integrated into the policy advice architecture in Germany. 

Wellbeing and Policy” – that is the title of a landmark report written by Lord Gus O’Donnell and a group of renowned experts: Prof. Angus Deaton (Princeton University), Lord Prof. Richard Layard (London School of Economics), Dr. David Halpern (Behavioural Insights Team) and Martine Durand (OECD). It was commissioned by the London-based Legatum Institute.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank, invited the report’s authors to Berlin to discuss the group’s proposals with senior German policymakers and experts in Berlin. As a result, it emerged that the topic is of increasing significance in Europe’s largest economy. The coalition treaty which sets out the government’s work programme for the next 4 years, for instance, promises to develop and implement an action plan “gut leben” (good life) which shall be based on indicators of progress and well-being beyond GDP.

On the occasion of the event, the following video interviews with Martine Durand and Gus O’Donnell were filmed for the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s SGI News – a news portal of the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project that features stories around this Wikiprogress partner project. The SGI project just launched its new 2014 study which examines governance and policy making in all European Union and OECD countries.

A full report of the event in Berlin can be found here:

Putting the O’Donnell report in the German context, Prof Gert Wagner and I recently argued in an article for the leading economics opinion magazine Capital that it is time for research on happiness and life satisfaction to systematically be integrated into the policy advice architecture in Germany.

Dr. Christian Kroll is project manager of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Sustainable Governance Indicators project.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Two revolutions for the price of one

This blog by Romina Boarini, from the Monitoring Well-being and Progress Division of the OECD introduces the latest  Better Life Index, version 4.0. 
As discussions of the Post-2015 Agenda move forward, it becomes increasingly clear that this Agenda seeks to promote a new vision of development and well-being that puts people and the planet at the forefront. The OECD Better Life Initiative, launched in 2011, builds on this same premise. Its aim is to change the life of millions of people around the world by focusing on what really matters to them. In so doing, it offers one vision of what a Data Revolution might aim to achieve.

The OECD initiative enacts a twofold revolution. It not only measures new well-being dimensions that have long been neglected in policy (for instance social connectedness or subjective well-being), but also measures them in a new way, by asking people directly how much these dimensions matter to their lives.

As part of this initiative, the OECD designed the Better Life Index (BLI). The Better Life Index, celebrating its fourth birthday in May, allows people to see how their country is doing in a number of topics that matter to them, including: community, jobs, education, environment, housing, income, civic engagement, health, safety, life satisfaction and work-life balance. Users can rate these topics according to their priorities, and can then visualise how countries perform according to their personal view of what makes a better life. They can also see whether their country is actually delivering on the topics that they consider as important. Users can share their ratings with their networks but also with the OECD, and for the first time this year, these ratings can be visualised on a new dedicated page.

The BLI 4.0’s new visualisation brings together the responses people have shared with the OECD from countries around world. This visualisation is not just a fancy new feature but also another way of empowering citizens by creating collective awareness of what matters to society as a whole. Visitors to the BLI can learn about what goes on in their country but also what citizens think about what should happen next.

So far around 60 000 people from all over the world have shared their responses. Obviously these responses cannot be considered as representatives of each individual country, both because the samples are still small and include voluntary submissions only. However, we have done some statistical analysis to address some of these limitations and this analysis has highlighted three interesting messages.

First, people seem to put more value on the topics on which they are doing well, individually or in the country where they live. For instance, people give more importance to health when they are satisfied with their health or when health conditions in their country are very good. Another interesting example is work-life balance. People rate work-life balance more highly when they are satisfied with their work-life balance but also when they live in countries where work-life balance is on average better (e.g. low working hours, greater leisure time).

Second, the only notable exception to a positive relationship between what people value and how they already do is income. People living in higher-income countries or who are very satisfied with their personal situation in terms of income are those who, in fact, tend to value income as less important.

Third, people living in countries with high levels of income inequality, tend to increasingly value jobs and civic engagement, whereas people living in countries with low levels of income inequality value environment, health, safety and housing more.

How to interpret these results? The first result tells us that societal preferences may play a key role for shaping good lives. However, it probably also tells us that achieved well-being outcomes become important “acquired rights” that people want to defend. The second result resonates well with the motto “money does not buy happiness” although, according to our evidence, it would be better rephrased as “money buys only some happiness”. The third result tells us that people in high inequality countries may see jobs as an effective way to reduce disparities and they would consider political participation and engagement as an important means to that end.
Create your own Better Life Index and tell us what your priorities are for a better life! Click here.

Romina Boarini

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Do family characteristics affect children's health?

This blog, written by Wikichild co-ordinator Melinda Deleuze, provides an overview of the latest World Family Map 2014. The report takes a look at family characteristics across the globe to see if they affect children's health. The post is a part of Wikiprogress' Series on Health.

The World Family Map Project measures and monitors global changes in the family. Last month, the World Family Map 2014 was released and it sure has a lot going on! This second annual edition provides 1) updates on the project’s 16 indicators, 2) an essay on union stability and child health in developing countries, as well as 3) a short analysis of psychological distress among 9 to 16 year olds in the European Union (EU). This blog will provide an overview of the report’s three sections, sharing a few of the findings. 

The Countries included in the World Family Map 2014

The Data Updates, part 1

The first section, representing a bulk of the report, offers an inside view of families within 49 countries. The report presents a description of the data trends, showing regional and country differences, as well as colourful tables and maps for almost every indicator. The report pulls data from a multitude of sources: country-level sources; DHS; FAO; Integrated Public Use Microdata Series-International (IPMUS); LIS; OECD; PISA; UNICEF Innocenti Research Center; World Value Surveys. The blending of these surveys produces 16 indicators divided into 4 domains: family structure; family socioeconomics; family processes; family culture.

The “family structure” dimension includes data regarding living arrangements, marriage and cohabitation rates, fertility rates, and non-marital childbearing rates. Living arrangements is separated into 2-parent households, single-parent households, neither-parent households, and households with extended family members.

The “family socioeconomics” dimension includes poverty, undernourishment, parental education level, parental employment rates, and public family benefits. Poverty measures include both absolute and relative child poverty rates.

The “family processes” dimension includes adult satisfaction with family life, disagreement over household work, teen’s discussion with parents, and family meals around the table with 15 year-olds. Teen’s discussion with parents includes communication frequency measures as well as whether the conversation is about how well the 15 year old is doing in school or about non-school related topics.

Finally, the “family culture” dimension includes measures regarding attitudes toward voluntary single motherhood, attitudes about whether children need both a mother and father, amount of support for working mothers, and family trust.

The Essay, part 2

The report also contains an essay which explores the relationship between family instability and children’s health in developing countries. There are 27 countries observed in Central/South America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, using data from the Demographic Health Surveys (DHS). Family instability is measured here by divorce or dissolution of a cohabiting partnership, widowhood, or re-partnership (i.e. re-marriage; cohabitation) during the child’s lifetime. The essay looks into 3 child health measures with varying degrees of severity: diarrhea (acute illness); stunting (longer-term); child mortality (most severe outcome). 

Children of Mothers Who Divorced, Dissolved a Cohabiting Union, and/or Re-partnered More Likely to Have Died in Three Out of Four Regions

The essay suggest that family instability compromises parents’ ability to provide the kind of consistent and attentive care that is most likely to foster good health in children. The essay hypothesizes that union instability may affect children’s health due to additional time and attention consumption, more stress, a disruption of social support networks, and reduction of socioeconomic resources available to parents. The results show that in a number of low-income regions divorce or partnership dissolution and re-partnering are associated with increased negative conditions for all three child health measures. The overall findings suggest that union instability is associated with worse child health outcomes; however, the findings are stronger for diarrhea and death than for stunted growth.

The Analysis, part 3

The third and final section of the report contains an analysis of the 2010 EU Kids Online Survey to determine whether there are links between family structure across Europe and children’s psychological health and if there are variations among countries. The survey contains findings for 1,000 children who use the internet aged 9-16 in each of the 25 EU countries observed. Psychological health is defined as emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems, and pro-social behaviour (or voluntary behaviour intended to benefit another).

Odds of Elevated Psychological Difficulties in Sole-Parent Families Relative to Two-Parent Families

The results suggest that in the EU as a whole, children’s living arrangements are related to their psychological well-being. Children from more educated households report fewer psychological difficulties, but household socioeconomic status has the opposite effect, with higher status being associated with more difficulties. 
Overall, the World Family Map 2014 brings a good deal of interesting analysis and provides more insight to important questions facing countries all over the world. I am looking forward to see what new understandings next year’s edition brings.

-Melinda Deleuze

See Also:
The OECD Family Database
Child Family and Peer Relationships