What does "measuring well-being?" mean, and why do it?
Measuring human well-being involves identifying the key components of a good life and then selecting a set of indicators that provide information about the progress of society with respect to these outcomes. There are three key elements of well-being that it will be important to measure: i) trends over time; ii) the distribution of outcomes across different members of society; and iii) the distribution of outcomes across countries.
Measures of well-being are important to governments and to the general public. Although many societal outcomes are often not under direct government control, governments still seek to have a positive influence on well-being and are often called to intervene to address poor outcomes and/or declines in well-being over time. Governments will generally have an interest in all three elements: trends over time; distributions across society; and international benchmarking.
Businesses and voluntary sector organisations may also have an interest in monitoring well-being. National trends influence the business environment. Businesses can play a role in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups and bridging inequalities in society, and they may look to international measures when considering export, expansion and/or relocation opportunities. Voluntary sector organisations may have a strong interest in the distribution of outcomes across society - including what this tells us about vulnerable groups and the support that they may need. Voluntary sector organisations may also look overseas for examples of different practices, and some voluntary organisations will be engaged in international work that seeks to address global inequalities in well-being outcomes.