Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong-based non-profit public policy think tank, has produced a new report titled “Measuring Well-Being in Cities – A Literature Review.” This Asian think tank is working on creating a tool – a well-being index for Asian cities – that can harness the power of indices plus engage people on issues of civic importance. The newly released report reviews a range of existing indices of well-being, quality of life and liveability, which have been consulted by the think tank’s researchers in developing the new index for Asian cities.
The review identifies six “approaches” to developing indices for well-being, including:
- Human development (e.g. GDP, Human Development Index, Gross National Happiness, or China’s Xiaokang Indicators)
- City competition (e.g. rankings published by consultancies and magazines based on liveability indices)
- City planning (very few internationally recognized)
- Satisfaction (e.g. Gallup World Path, nef’s National Accounts on Well-being)
- Health (e.g. a set of indicators under the WHO’s Global Health Observatory, The Australian Unity Well-being Index)
- Sustainability (e.g. Happy Planet Index, Genuine Progress Indicator)
It is concluded that it would not be effective to create a new index that attempts to merge all of these six approaches. Instead, suggests the author, it could work around what Asian urban residents themselves identify as their priorities and needs, as well as incorporating both objective and subjective criteria for well-being.
As part of the index-development process, the researchers at Civic Exchange have collected and studied information on over 160 indices from around the world that measures various elements that may be said to broadly relate to the concept of “wellbeing.” The have summarized this information in a document with clear summary tables containing all the indices they have studied from September 2011 to April 2012.