Understanding Human Well-being

Sample Chapter
  • Edited Mark McGillivray and Matthew Clarke

    Understanding human Well-being
    ISBN-10: 92-808-1130-4,
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1130-8
    United Nations University Press
    November 2006

    With more than a billion people living on less than one dollar per day, human well-being is a core issue for both researchers and policy-makers. The Millennium Development Goals are a powerful reminder of this point. We now know more about human well-being and the related concepts of poverty and inequality than ever before, as a result of many conceptual and methodological advances and better data. Yet despite this, the vitality of underlying concepts and the quality of data are repeatedly challenged and there remains much to be desired, particularly with regard to the world’s poorest countries.

    This book examines advances in underlying well-being, poverty, and inequality concepts and corresponding empirical applications and case studies. The authors examine traditional monetary concepts and measurements, and non-monetary factors including educational achievement, longevity, health, and subjective well-being.

    “The [works] in question are remarkable not just for tackling difficult conceptual and methodological issues …, but for their content, scope and coverage – which touch upon most, if not all, of the central topics and emerging issues in well-being research.”

    —Journal of Human Development vol. 9, no. 1 March 2008


    Mark McGillivray is a Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER in Helsinki and an Inaugural Fellow of the Human Development and Capabilities Association. Matthew Clarke is Program Leader, International Development School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne.

    Contents Overview

    • Human well-being concepts and measures, Mark McGillivray and Matthew Clarke
    • Does it matter that we do not agree on the definition of poverty? A comparison of four approaches, Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi, Ruhi Saith and Frances Stewart
    • Economic well-being and non-economic well-being, Andrew Sumner
    • The four qualities of life: Ordering concepts and measures of the good life, Ruut Veenhoven
    • Inequalities, agency, and well-being: Conceptual linkages and measurement challenges in development, Douglas Hicks

    Well-being measures and applications

    • On the measurement of human well-being: Fuzzy-set theory and Sen’s capability approach, Mina Baliamoune-Lutz
    • Benchmarking sustainable development: A synthetic meta-index approach, Laurens Cherchye and Timo Kuosmanen
    • Adjusting human well-being indicators for gender disparity: Insightful empirically? Mark McGillivray and J. Ram Pillarisetti
    • Well-being and the complexity of poverty: A subjective well-being approach, Mariano Rojas
    • International inequality in human development dimensions, Mark McGillivray
    • Assessing well-being using hierarchical needs, Matthew Clarke
    • Assessing poverty and inequality at a detailed regional level: new advances in spatial microsimulation, Ann Harding, Rachel Lloyd, Anthea Bill and Anthony King

    Well-being case studies

    • Longevity in Russia’s regions: Do poverty and low public health spending kill? Oleksiy Ivaschenko
    • The medium and long term effects of an expansion of education on poverty in Côte d’Ivoire: A dynamic microsimulation study, Michael Grimm
    • The dynamics of poverty in Ethiopia, Arne Bigsten and Abebe Shimeles
    • Prospects for ‘pro-poor’ growth in Africa, Arne Bigsten and Abebe Shimeles