Posts Tagged ‘ education ’

PRESS RELEASE: IntComps site changes hands

HAPA ANNOUNCES TRANSFER OF RESEARCH PROJECT TO UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI

Hayward, CA – The Hayward Area Planning Association (HAPA) has transferred the InternationalComparisons.org website to the University of Missouri. Sherman Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Cal State University Hayward and President of HAPA, and Dustyn Bindel, Research Associate, developed the website over a period of almost four years. Tevfik Murat Yildirim, a Ph.D. student at the University, will be continuing the development of the site as new research is done on evaluating the performance of the world’s advanced nations. Professor Cooper Drury, Chair of the Department of Political Science, edits the Journal, Foreign Policy Analysis, and is the faculty contact for the site. He said, “Understanding the politics in other states is critically important to understand the foreign policy of others and one’s own state.”The site address is http://www.internationalcomparison.org/

Lewis says, “Work on this site has been rewarding but has become too time consuming, and I need to pass the baton onto some institution with fresh energy to continue the work.” Bindel, who ran the website and a related blog, says that “Laying out the site, technically, was quite challenging, but I think we’ve made it quite transparent for any journalist or academic with an interest in national comparative evaluations.” Tevfik states that he “… was excited when I saw an announcement about this website, and as I looked into it more, I decided it was something important—something I really wanted to work on. I feel challenged and honored for the opportunity to work on this important website.”

Sherman Lewis had the idea for this project for many years before he finally got serious, starting with a compilation of all the treaties that other advanced nations had agreed to, but not the United States. In general, he is critical of both ideological attacks on the United States and of simplistic defenses of the U.S. He believes that the United States is seriously behind on many important goals of society and yet also wants to give credit to the U.S. where its performance is good or excellent. Nevertheless, he believes that the U.S. in general has fallen behind other advanced democracies, and people need objective information about this problem.

Lewis: The “Intcomps” website is unique in that it has more topics of comparison for quality of life than any other website in the world today. On the other hand, it looks only at 12 countries, the U.S. and 11 advanced democratic countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The site combines objectivity with evaluation.

In May 2014, Wikipedia published an article on the general issue of international comparison statistics for 26 policy areas. The article discusses seven databases with this kind of statistical data. Internationalcomparisons.org is the only one that covers every area.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_comparisons

On the website, the categorical pages, each containing several columns of statistics, are as follows:

Agriculture     Child Welfare     Competitiveness     Crime     Economy     Education

Energy     Environment     Gender Equality     General Performance     Greenhouse Gases

Health Care     Health Regulation      Health Status     Housing

Income Distribution     International Aid     Lifestyle Risks     Military     Population

Rule of Law     Sexual Health     Social Justice     Technology     Teen Pregnancy

Transportation     Treaties     Voting     Work and Leisure

To learn more about the website or HAPA, please contact Sherman Lewis at sherman@csuhayward.us.

 

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Measuring development and subjective well-being: Human Development Index vs. World Happiness Report

Can measuring “happiness” be a science? Doesn’t the meaning vary too much from person to person and culture to culture? The squishiness of happiness has not prevented researchers from trying to measure it and make it relevant for public policy.

With studies tracing in the paths of what the Human Development Report started over two decades ago, the OECD’s Better Life Index, the OECD’s Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-Being, the Happy Planet Index, and the U.S.-focused Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (with an international report from 2010) have aimed to perfect the science of quantifying subjective well-being and demonstrate the relatively fresh attention the subject has elicited. Most recently, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network has released its first World Happiness Report last year.

Subjective Well-Being Indices Rankings-page-001

According to the above table, rankings for well-being become pretty varied. Different indices use and weigh different indicators in different ways. The most exceptional example in this case is the Happy Planet Index which places an immense amount of weight on its indicator, “Ecological footprint” in order to emphasize the importance of environmental sustainability.

But let’s direct our attention to the first two: the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (HDI) 2013 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s World Happiness Report (WHR) 2013. The HDI has been a pioneer, and Internationalcomparisons.org has long considered the index to be one of if not the authoritative voice on quality of life, achieving results profoundly more telling than the traditional GDP/capita. The WHR has developed under the influence of the HDI, yet it has come up with different results contrasting most significantly as it relates to Internationalcomparisons.org and the countries studied. Fortunately, the WHR dedicated an entire chapter (Chapter 8) to compare its system to the HDI.

Are more developed countries happier?

Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it.
-Economist Amartya Sen on the capabilities approach and what it means to defining subjective well-being

The objective of Chapter 8 in the WHR is to observe the relationship between human development and life satisfaction, that is to say in certain terms the HDI and the WHR. The chapter discusses at great length the different approaches (human development vs. capabilities) to define and measure development, satisfaction, happiness, and subjective well-being. Chapter 8 asks how positive is the relation between the HDI and life evaluation of well-being? For the intents and purposes of the HDI and WHR reports in the scope of the 150+ countries surveyed, very positive. Chapter 8 dissects individual indicators of the HDI like life expectancy, years of expected education, actual years of schooling, and GNI/capita with positive life satisfaction and concludes with correlative coefficients of 0.70, 0.69, 0.63, 0.73, and 0.78. Finally, HDI (overall score) shares a correlative coefficient of 0.77 with life satisfaction.

While this is good news in determining that the gap between measurements of human development and subjective well-being is closing thanks to an increased focus and research on the subject, our more narrow scope concerning the gap among the 12 countries studied at Internationalcomparisons.org disappointingly still lacks explanation.There are 33 places between the systems’ rank for Japan, 20 places for Germany and Italy, and 14 places for the U.S. and Denmark (which the WHR has at 1st). The correlative coefficient is either not strong enough at 0.77 or not relevant enough with the 12 countries on which we focus.