Sunday 28 November 2010

An Airy-Fairy Measure

Having been enthusiastic about David Cameron's proposal to measure Gross National Wellbeing, it is rather disappointing to find that he is proposing to do it in such an airy-fairy manner. Both he and the statistician in charge at the ONS talk vaguely about asking people how happy they feel. While as a social scientist I cannot decry the value of trying to measure subjunctive feelings it is disappointing that solid facts such as hours worked, a measure of equality, suicide rates, the stability of marriages and partnerships, etc (see earlier post) are not to be taken into account. Perhaps Cameron is frightened of what objective data might reveal.


  1. Perhaps it's a tentative start, to be expanded if successful? Unfortunately (but predictably) it is being used as a source of much derision by opposition politicians, and this is fuelling internal criticism of the idea by his own backbenchers. I suspect this is leading to it being watered down a way beyond the original intent, on the grounds that the Prime Minister probably feels he has much bigger and more important battles to fight.

  2. I genuinely admire Cameron for binging up the subject at all, and risking the inevitable ridicule: just regret that he isn't so far considering more solid measures, of which there are plenty available.

    True, British politicians are too often distracted by "Events dear boy." but in the long run the quality of life, how to measure it and how to achieve it, is probably the most important issue of all.