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Global Well-Being

Raksha Arora, Jim Harter and Gale D. Muller

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Global well-being is defined by the growing institution of data that counts, sorts, records, and analyzes virtually all topics affecting all aspects of life for the benefit of the 6 billion people of the world and those who lead them. Traditional measures of well-being include economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) as well as social indicators such as poverty rates, healthcare expenditures, and literacy levels. While GDP is the most prominent among these, Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets, who invented its predecessor, gross national product (GNP), never quite intended it to be the de facto measure of national welfare that it has become today. Mahbub ul Haq, who created the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) as an alternative to GNP, made a compelling statement about the limitations of income-based measures when he wrote that “Any measure that values a gun several hundred times more than a bottle of milk is bound to raise serious questions about its relevance for human progress” ( ul Haq, 2003 , p. 127). The HDI was intended primarily to shift the dialogue away from income-based measures of development rather than to provide an authoritative measure of human welfare and was extremely successful in doing so. However, HDI, like most composite social indicators, suffers from the somewhat arbitrary choice and weighting of its constituent parts. The science of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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