7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Kate Sollis

Kate Sollis is a Research Officer and PhD Candidate at the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. Her background is in statistics and social policy, with a particular interest in the measurement of wellbeing. She has previously worked as a Research Officer at ARACY (The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics

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How do we measure what matters to people? Findings from a systematic review

There is a growing movement across the world to make better use of wellbeing measures to guide policy. This stems from the realisation that reliance on economic indicators, such as income, GDP, and unemployment, may not be adequately capturing the aspects of life that people value. This is of particularly high relevance in our increasingly globalised world, where policies and programs are often developed and implemented by populations other than the target group.

But how do we measure what actually matters to people? A mounting body of research over the past two decades has developed participatory wellbeing frameworks, which are created by consulting with the target population and asking the question “What does a good life mean for you?”. This presentation will outline the findings of a systematic review of over 120 participatory wellbeing frameworks, spanning every region of the world and all life stages. In particular, we will highlight the methods applied to develop these frameworks, including how the question is phrased to elicit wellbeing meanings, and the level of participation with community members.

Overall, this study demonstrated that while there are some similarities in ‘what matters to people’ from different population groups, nuances exist within every group. Given this diverse understanding of wellbeing throughout the world, it is vital that research and policy takes this into account. Doing so will ensure that social programs and policies will improve the lives of individuals in a meaningful way.