Well-Being – How are we doing?

I (Clare) recently discovered an extremely interesting research study. How are Ontarians Really Doing? by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing

The concept of well-being is near and dear to my heart. In my doctoral thesis I wrote that well-being should be the ultimate goal of schooling. Even if you are not from Ontario I think you will find this study interesting because it goes beyond traditional and typical ways of measuring how well a country is doing. Below are some excerpts from the document and here is the link to the entire document.https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/

What is wellbeing? Image_InfographiconWellbeing

There are many definitions of wellbeing. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing has adopted the following as its working definition:

 The presence of the highest possible quality of life in its full breadth of expression focused on but not necessarily exclusive to: good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture.

The United Nations and the OECD agree – the true measure of a country’s progress must include the well being of its citizens.

While the most traditional metric, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), measures all goods and services produced by a country, it has two critical shortcomings. First, by focusing exclusively on the economy, GDP fails to capture areas of our lives that we care about most like education, health, environmental quality, and the relationships we have with others. Second, it does not identify the costs of economic growth — like pollution.

To create a robust and more revealing measure of our social progress, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) has been working with experts and everyday Canadians since 1999 to determine how we are really doing in the areas of our lives that matter most. The CIW measures overall wellbeing based on 64 indicators covering eight domains of vital importance to Canadians: Education, Community Vitality, Healthy Populations, Democratic Engagement, Environment, Leisure and Culture, Time Use, and Living Standards. The CIW’s comprehensive index of overall wellbeing tracks progress provincially and nationally and allows comparisons to GDP.

Comparing the CIW and GDP between 1994 and 2010 reveals a chasm between our wellbeing and economic growth both nationally and provincially. Over the 17-year period, GDP has grown almost four times more than our overall wellbeing. The trends clearly show that even when times are good, overall wellbeing does not keep up with economic growth and when times are bad, the impact on our wellbeing is even harsher. We have to ask ourselves, is this good enough?

Some of the topics addressed are:

  • Progress in education, community vitality and healthy populations
  • Decline in leisure and culture
  • Decline in the environment
  • Lagging far behind in living standards
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