4160.0 - Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2001   
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Contents >> Chapter 1: A System of Social Statistics >> How to read this publication

How to read this publication

This book presents a method for approaching the measurement of wellbeing. Each chapter is designed to take the reader through steps that will assist in this process. In summary, these steps, and the reasons they are considered important, are:

1. Think about the scope and definition of the area of interest

Wellbeing is centred on concepts such as human happiness and quality of life - complex phenomena, not easily defined or explained. As well, many of the aspects of life that contribute to individual wellbeing, and to the wellbeing of the population as a whole, are interrelated and overlapping. It is important to clarify the scope and meaning of the key concepts involved in measuring wellbeing in an area of concern, to ensure consistency in approach and avoid confusion.

2. Consider the relationship of this area to wellbeing

Micro level issues faced by individuals become social issues when considered on a large scale. Examining the relationship of a specific area to individual wellbeing, and then to the wellbeing of the population as a whole, can be helpful in identifying the important issues for that area.

3. Identify the key social issues

One of the primary roles of statistical agencies is to inform contemporary debate and decision making. Identifying the key social issues for an area ensures that data collection and analysis have a clear direction and are relevant to the debates they need to inform.

4. Identify the key population groups

Social issues often focus on the disadvantage, or risk of disadvantage, faced by particular groups in the population. Community and government response to social issues are also often directed at particular population groups. Identifying the key population groups for an area further clarifies the direction that analysis or data collection may need to take.

5. Develop or make use of conceptual frameworks

In addition to a clear direction, a method for organising and managing data collection or analysis is needed. Conceptual frameworks provide this structure. Because they map the conceptual terrain, they also provide a way of identifying areas that are not covered by existing data holdings or analysis. Importantly, frameworks also provide a basis for ensuring comparability of data across different surveys, between states and countries, and over time.

6. Identify data sources or information needs

Once direction and structure are clear, optimal use can be made of existing data sources. Data can be selected that will answer the specific questions raised as social issues, or be relevant to specific population groups. Alternatively, where data collections need to be developed, the key aims, boundaries and issues of interest will also be clear.

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