Sunday, 8 November 2009

WikiProgress "for healthy societies"

...is the title of a fairly new virtual space for sharing information on ways of evaluating progress in societies. A casual visit suggests the site is still under construction - but aren't all wikis under permanent construction? The link TOPICS includes a valuable set of categories, which are discussed to varying degrees of depth. I have peeked into Material Well-Being, which includes interesting references, Inequality, which presents the Gini Coefficient and links to gender inequality assessment tools, Physical and Mental Health, which offers a round-up of key health matters, and Knowledge and Understanding, which in my opinion would gain from extra input by knowledgeable people who define these concepts in their broad sense.

The link Community Portal lists a stimulating set of press clippings about the recent 3rd OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Busan, Korea. Recurring themes are the recognition that GDP (gross domestic product) growth does not necessarily reflect social process, and that ways of assessing quality of life deserve increased attention.

How to determine levels of freedom, security and contentment? For the time being, WikiProgress doesn't offer any revolutionary answers, but intriguing links. Regarding happiness, for example, it connects you to the World Database of Happiness, a register of scientific reasearch on subjective appreciation of life. There I read, under Happiness of Nations, that in 2007 people surveyed in the Democratic Republic of Congo ranked their quality of life at 4.2 (rank 0 representing the worst possible life, 10 the best possible life). In that year, Germans ranked their life at 6.07, Sierra Leonians at 3, Chinese at 4.9, US-Americans at 7, Turks at 5.2, Russians at 5, Brazilians at 6.3, Yemeni at 4.5. I wonder whether that means that life in the USA is better than in Germany, or that Germans are just grumpy...

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