Rainer Muthmann, Marleen De Smedt

Reflections within the European Statistical System (ESS) on the multidimensional measurement of Quality of Life

The EC Communication on 'GDP and beyond: measuring progress in a changing world', and the Report by the Commission on Measurement of Economic Performance and Societal Progress' (better known as the Stiglitz report), which were made public respectively in August and in September 2009, gave a strong impetus for an integrated view on the economic and social well-being of our societies.
Both documents introduce a new chapter on integrated statistics, namely on how to capture the complexity of measuring the quality of life, of measuring well-being of individuals and the sustainable progress and well-being of societies.
In order to establish a common approach towards measuring progress, well-being and sustainable development, the European Statistical System (ESS) has gathered representatives of 16 Member States, together with experts from OECD, other Commission services and Agencies, to form a Sponsorship Group, which has the task to develop recommendations also taking into account the new production method for EU statistics (vision).
One of the 4 Task Forces (TF) set up by this Sponsorship Group has worked on a proposal for the multidimensional measurement of Quality of Life (QoL). While recognising that measuring QoL involves the measurement of various components/domains - such as personal and economic security, health, employment and life satisfaction - the TF recommended not to combine the results of the domains into one composite indicator, but to select key indicator(s) and complementary indicators per domain. In order to reduce complexity of the data and to allow for analysis between dimensions, a set of synthetic level indicators for each quality of life dimension should be developed to the extent that the variables of interest are highly correlated. A scoreboard of uncorrelated primary indicators should complement the picture.
In autumn 2011 the Sponsorship Group and the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC) will decide on the acceptance/operationalisation of the recommendations proposed.