What are the appropriate indicators of wellbeing inequality?
17 May 2018
Policy makers and academics are increasingly interested in wellbeing inequality. The vast majority of academic studies into wellbeing inequality currently use standard deviation of personal wellbeing measures such as self-reported life satisfaction or happiness. However, there has so far only been limited debate on whether standard deviation is the most appropriate measure, and its choice is rarely justified.
This working paper presents research commissioned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in collaboration with the What Works Centre for Well-being. NEF was tasked with exploring the strengths and weaknesses of different measures of wellbeing inequality and to make a recommendation of a measure which could be reported by the ONS alongside mean wellbeing.
We identified three distinct reasons why people cared about wellbeing inequality. These were:
This paper aims to open up discussion about appropriate indicators of wellbeing inequality. Based on analysis so far, we propose using a threshold for a single national indicator. Further work is needed to identify which threshold to use, although interviewees suggested 4, 5 or 6 on a scale of 0 – 10.
However, different indicators may be used for different purposes. We encourage researchers to reflect on which wellbeing inequality measure they choose and for a broader debate between key stakeholders on appropriate wellbeing inequality measures for different purposes.
Building a wellbeing economy
If you value great public services, protecting the planet and reducing inequality, please support NEF today.
We need to end the UK’s “blandemic” poorly designed housing. New towns must have high quality design at their core
David Pendlebury, Benedikt Stranak
19 October 2023
GDP, inflation and the government deficit reign supreme in the budget - but are they giving us the results that we want?
10 March 2021
Johnson’s seven-mile cycle ride has been criticised, but many people in Britain have no choice but to travel to get safe access to green space
Alex Chapman, Jasmeet Phagoora
20 January 2021
Analysing options for systemic change to transform the world’s economic and financial systems after the pandemic
Chaitanya Kumar, Andrew Pendleton, Jonathan Barth, Lucas Coscieme, Andreas Dimmelmeier, Katherine Trebeck, Sarah Mewes, Isabel Nuesse
11 January 2021