Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Focus on Social Indicators

In India, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry heard that social indicators eclipse India's economic growth. The President of the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce called out the government, saying “We need to improve our social indicators … and we have to make the bulk of the community feel they are involved. Now is the time for action …” And in Nigeria, the chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission observes that Nigeria's oil wealth means little when "the country's basic social indicators place it among the 20 poorest countries in the world."

So what are these news stories telling us?

Increasingly, economic development is being seen as part of the larger picture of progress, and not the picture itself. That's one reason why we're seeing increased empasis on measuring and tracking social indicators as a key responsibility of governments and NGOs.

One such report was just released by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE). The Summary of Social Indicators 2007 – An Analysis of Life Conditions of the Brazilian Population – is mainly formed by data from the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) and contains specific chapters on: Education, Households, Families, Marriages, Judicial Separations and Divorces, Color, Women, Elderly Persons, Teenagers and Youngsters.

While some indicators show improvement, the survey found 235 thousand children aged 10-17 who were working in the streets. The employment rate of children was higher in families headed by women: 44.1%, versus 40.3% in families headed by men. At the same time, school attendance for children aged 4-6 years increased over ten years from 53.8% to 76.0% -- a remarkable improvement, but with plenty of room for improvement.


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