1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/06/2004   
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The second issue of Measures of Australia's Progress (MAP) was released on 21 April. It is an ABS contribution to the national discussion about whether life in Australia is getting better.

In 2002, the ABS released the first issue of Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP). More than two years in the making, the first issue was referred to in the media as ‘about as close as any statistician can get to the meaning of life’. And late last year Dennis Trewin topped the society category of The Bulletin's Smart 100 awards for the ground breaking work in producing the publication.

MAP presents 15 headline dimensions of Australian progress that cover many of the areas of life most important to Australia and Australians. The publication draws on ABS and other data to paint a picture of national progress over the past ten years, and updates and expands upon the first issue of MAP.

MAP covers: Health, Education, Work, National Income, Financial Hardship, National Wealth, Housing, Productivity, The Natural Landscape, The Human Environment (air quality), Oceans and Estuaries, International Environmental Concerns (Greenhouse), Family, Community and Social cohesion, Crime, Democracy, Governance and Citizenship.

Headline indicators that summarise progress in each area are included for most dimensions: health, for example, uses life expectancy at birth; national income uses real net national disposable income per capita. Commentary that accompanies the indicators discusses trends in progress together with differences within Australia and the factors influencing change. The aspects of national progress are linked with one another. Changes in one aspect will be associated with changes in many others — sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Overall progress is not assessed by simply counting the numbers of areas getting better and subtracting those getting worse. Some aspects of progress (especially aspects such as national income and national wealth) are more easily encapsulated in a small number of indicators, than are some social and environmental aspects of progress. And some readers of MAP will give greater importance to some aspects of progress than to others.

Supplementary commentaries provide more information about the headline indicators. They discuss other aspects of national progress including Culture and Leisure, Inflation, Competitiveness and Openness, Transport and Communication.

For further information please contact Jon Hall on 02 6252 7221, or Email: jon.hall@abs.gov.au