Wellbeing what it is and how to align with economic policy Charles Seaford Contents What is wellbeing? Why should government make it a priority? How can we align wellbeing and the economy as government priorities? There are some good official definitions A positive physical, social and mental state; it is not just the absence of pain, discomfort and incapacity. It requires that basic needs are met, that individuals have a sense of purpose, that they feel able to achieve important personal goals and participate in society.
Government Whitehall Well-Being Working Group (W3G) (2007) This is a dynamic state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to their community. Foresight Review (2008) Mental wellbeing A simpler definition Good feelings Living a good life Adapted from Foresight (2008)
What causes it? Good feelings Living a good life External conditions Adapted from Foresight (2008) Personal resources How do we measure it? Good feelings Living a good life
External conditions Adapted from Foresight (2008) How happy did you feel yesterday? How anxious did you feel yesterday? How satisfied are you with your life nowadays? To what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile? Personal resources
Contents What is wellbeing? Why should government make it a priority? How can we align wellbeing and the economy as government priorities? Prioritising wellbeing is a policy tool Everyone wants a good life, wellbeing All government priorities reflect beliefs about what will help create good lives Healthcare, growth, education Prioritising wellbeing is not instead of these It is a way of balancing conflicting demands using evidence about what causes wellbeing so improving effectiveness of policies and
spending In principle you can then assess policy impacts Source: Gus ODonnell et al, Well-being and Policy It can also draw attention to problems The bottom quintile in UK score 4.6 less than the top quintile (4.8 vs 9.5/10), one of the most unequal distributions in Europe GDP rose but life satisfaction fell in the years before the revolution in Egypt Including negative long term trends Bartolini & Bilancini 2010
Income is important up to a certain level satisfaction with life overall (1-7 scale) 5.80 5.60 5.40 5.20 5.00 4.80 4.60 0 20000 40000
60000 80000 100000 120000 140000 Understanding Society Survey, 2009-2010 The evidence allows us to quantify the impacts of material deprivation Effect of not being able to afford.... Weeks annual holiday Having guests for a drink or meal
Keeping house warm Buying new clothes Meal with meat or fish every other day Replacing worn-out furniture .00 .05 .10 .15 .20 .25 .30
.35 .40 Effect size on life satisfaction Not being able to afford one item equivalent to 56% loss in income Not being able to afford two equivalent to 81% loss in income Source: European Quality of Life Survey, 2011 Unemployment and job insecurity are very important 0 -0.2 -0.4 -0.6
-0.8 -1 -1.2 -1.4 Perceived job insecurity is important How likely do you think it is that you might lose your job in the next 6 months? Difference from mean life satisfaction 0.3 0.2 0.1 0
Very li... Li Neither likely nor unli... Unli... Very unli... European Quality of Life Survey, 2011 Difference from m ean life satisfaction as is the right number of working hours
.20 .15 .10 .05 .00 15 20 25 30 35
40 45 50 55 -.05 -.10 -.15 Working hours Affects over a quarter of working adults in sample Significant effect even when excluding top income quartile
60 and social capital Changes in social capital seem to predict changes in well-being over time Neighbourhood issues are important as is housing and physical activity Never participating in sport equivalent to 48% loss in income
Debt can be very damaging Uncontrollable debts, or arrears, have been known to have a strong negative impact on mental health Having one item of debt had the same effect on life satisfaction as a 29% loss in income In short there is evidence to use about the drivers of wellbeing and their relative importance Income and employment 1. Decent income no deprivation 2.
Secure income and employment 3. Economic stability more broadly 4. Housing 5. Limited amounts of debt 6. Employment 7. Hours worked/enough time 8. Other aspects of a good job Activity 9. Caring for children but not the elderly 10. Volunteering and giving
11. Short commute times 12. Physical activity 13. Cultural activity Education 14. Education * Based mainly on life sat correlations Health 15. Health and vitality 16. Good sleep Relationships and social capital 17. Social activity, friends, family life 18. Membership of clubs and institutions 19. Trust of neighbours/other people The local environment 20. Clean, unvandalised local environment
21. Green space, trees 22. Accessible amenities 23. Good quality drinking water 24. Low levels of noise and pollution Society as a whole 25. Equality 26. Freedom 27. Governance and trust in institutions 28. Low levels of crime, physical security 22 The Cabinet Office has set up a What Works Centre for Wellbeing Gathering together evidence to improve policy and practice including for private sector
Three main areas Wellbeing at work Culture and sport Communities, including built environment, public space etc MPs have been pressing for wellbeing policy Government should have wellbeing strategy Policy should be assessed routinely for wellbeing impact Stable and secure employment should be first objective of economic policy Low pay and inequality should be priorities Wellbeing should be framework for planning and
culture policy And the agenda is recognised internationally progress is a multidimensional concept that goes beyond GDP. It must incorporate other dimensions such as the environment, equity considerations and well-being. We need to better understand the interactions, synergies and trade-offs among these different dimensions to draw the appropriate policy implications and advice. We need to develop policy tools to ensure that the benefits of growth contribute to an improvement in overall social well-being. OECD Secretary-Generals Report to Ministers 2012 Contents What is wellbeing? Why should government make it a priority?
How can we align wellbeing and the economy as government priorities? Eight important economic drivers 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Income - up to a certain level Equality Low unemployment Economic stability
Other components of a good job including the right hours The way we consume which is not optimised Low personal debt Relationships and social capital which are influenced by the economy 27 and five objectives 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
6. 7. 8. Income - up to a certain level Equality Low unemployment Economic stability Other components of a good job including the right hours The way we consume which is not optimised Low personal debt Relationships and social capital which are influenced by the economy
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. A target band of income for everyone Economic and social stability and full employment across the country Satisfying work for all and in the right quantities Encouraging active forms of consumption and correcting biases created by advertising
28 suggesting four sets of policies 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. A target band of income for everyone Economic and social stability and full employment across the country Satisfying work for all
and in the right quantities Encouraging active forms of consumption and correcting biases created by advertising 1. An industrial strategy designed to create good jobs
2. 3. 4. Business bank Inward/local investment Infrastructure Skills Research/transfer Trade Ownership models Co-ordination Public sector employment and procurement practices Effective trade unionism
Wage policies (ratios, living) 29 and an approach to policy making 1. An industrial strategy designed to create good jobs
2. 3. 4. Business bank Inward/local investment Infrastructure Skills Research/transfer Trade Ownership models Co-ordination 1. 2. 3.
Using evidence to counter traditional economic orthodoxies Effectively integrated policymaking Led from the top Public sector employment and procurement practices Effective trade unionism Wage policies (ratios, living) 30 Thank you [email protected]
Better mechanisms to protect businesses and families exist. Offsets not a solution. Need to reduce pollution from all sectors to hit Maryland goals. Not allowed under the Clean Power Plan. Better mechanisms to protect businesses and families exist
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