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Understanding the (non-)Use of Societal Wellbeing Indicators in National Policy Development: What Can We Learn from Civil Servants? A UK Case Study

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Abstract

Gross Domestic Product is often used as a proxy for societal well-being in the context of policy development. Its shortcomings in this context are, however, well documented, and numerous alternative indicator sets have been developed. Despite this, there is limited evidence of widespread use of these alternative indicator sets by people working in policy areas relevant to societal wellbeing. Civil servants are an important group of indicator end-users. Better understanding their views concerning measuring societal wellbeing can support wider discussions about what factors determine indicator use and influence in policy decision-making. Taking the UK as a case study, we ask what views exist among civil servants in the UK about measuring societal well-being? To answer this question, we used a bootstrapped Q methodology, interviewing 20 civil servants to elicit their views about measuring societal well-being. Three distinct discourses emerged from our analysis: one that was concerned about the consequences of ignoring natural, social and human capital in decision making; one that emphasised opportunity and autonomy as key determinants of well-being; and one that focused on the technical aspects of measuring societal well-being. Each of these discourses has direct implications for the way that we integrate societal wellbeing into policy making and highlights the potential benefits of including end-users in indicator development and strategy.

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APA

Corlet Walker, C., Druckman, A., & Cattaneo, C. (2020). Understanding the (non-)Use of Societal Wellbeing Indicators in National Policy Development: What Can We Learn from Civil Servants? A UK Case Study. Social Indicators Research, 150(3), 911–953. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-020-02358-z

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