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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happiness Updates

Measuring happiness is all over the news, and I wanted to share some updates with you. Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson wrote a paper, Happiness Inequality in the United States (PDF), which says the following:

While there has been no increase in aggregate happiness, inequality in happiness has fallen substantially since the 1970s. There have been large changes in the level of happiness across groups: Two-thirds of the black-white happiness gap has been eroded, and the gender happiness gap has disappeared entirely. Paralleling changes in the income distribution, differences in happiness by education have widened substantially.

Justin Wolfers wrote a three=part series on the Freakonomics blog about the paper which you might find interesting. The research started showing up in unusual places to make political points -- see especially Ezra Klein's take on the data and his musings about the effects of Prozac on the results.

There's also a new volume out for the Journal of Happiness Studies. The articles seem quite interesting -- what do self-help books, Epicurus, Schopenhauer, and ancient Chinese philosophers really know about happiness? There's even an article called "lost in data space" (PDF) that reviews Joe Sirgy's book, The Psychology of Quality of Life. I'm looking forward for copy of the Journal to come in the mail.


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