21 November 2007

Scoring communities on health and wellbeing

We have GDP and GNP and other economic scores we also have SMRs that provide death and illness statistics at a community level but we don't have health and wellbeing scores and their respective scoring systems. The New Economic Foundation has a happiness index which is quite cool that works at national level, they have a report the Happy Planet Index: an index of human wellbeing and environmental impact but that doesn't work yet for local neighbourhoods.

There 8 Point Wellbeing Manifesto says:

  • Reclaim time: we systematically over-estimate the amount of happiness extra income will bring us and work too many hours to get it.
  • Ban advertising to children: young children can’t distinguish between facts and selling messages. The culture of materialism is not only bad for the environment, it also undermines our well-being.
  • Invest in our future: the under threes and parenting. Extend parental leave to cover at least the first two years, and provide high-quality childcare and active parental support. Investment in the ‘zero to threes’ repays itself many times over in health, education and social benefits.
  • Teach well-being: promote well-being and curiosity in schools, not performance against targets, with more sports, arts, creativity, and other engaging activities. Young people should be given the tools to make their own good life choices.
  • Create a Citizen’s Service’ - like a jury service for volunteering, citizen’s panels etc. - and more opportunities for young people to engage in the community and politics
  • Measure what really matters to people: create a set of national well-being accounts to assess levels of satisfaction, depression, meaning and stress to be able to track changes over time, integrate services and allocate funds more effectively and efficiently.
  • Tax environmental “bads”, such as fossil fuels, not goods, such as high-quality work.
  • Introduce a universal Citizen’s Income: this would redistribute to the poorest - a pound in the pocket of the poor is worth more in well-being terms than a pound to a rich person - end the “benefits trap” and help people reclaim their time.
So what do you think? Is happiness the same as wellbeing? Are they linked? If yes, how so? And what do you think of NEF's Wellbeing Manifesto?