IIASA  is co-organizing a cyberseminar to test the wellbeing indicator "Years of Good Life" in association with the Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) and The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University

This cyberseminar focuses on the Demography of Sustainable Human Wellbeing, providing a forum for scientists from the social and natural sciences to debate and discuss cutting edge population-environment research topics. The purpose will be to vet a newly proposed indicator of human wellbeing “Years of Good Life” (counting only years of life above minimum levels of physical and mental health, income, and subjective life satisfaction) which can be calculated for all sub-populations of interest and has been tailor made to serve as criterion variable for assessing sustainable progress in human wellbeing over time in sustainability science. The webinar will also include expert contributions from producers of other wellbeing indices, including the World Happiness Index, the SDG Index, and the Planetary pressures–adjusted Human Development Index.

"Years of Good Life"(YoGL), a metric of human wellbeing developed as part of the ERC Advanced Grant "The demography of sustainable human wellbeing", must be widely discussed and challenged to test its acceptability and, in consequence, its usability as sustainability criterion. The newly proposed well-being indicator is introduced and discussed in an article published in PNAS, Years of Good Life Is a Well-being Indicator Designed to Serve Research on Sustainability, which will serve as a base for the cyberseminar discussion.

Abstract

Sustainable development (SD) as popularized by the Brundtland Commission and politically enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals has been the explicit focus of sustainability science. While there is broad agreement that the trend of human well-being (W) over time should serve as a sustainability criterion, the literature so far has mostly addressed this in terms of its determinants rather than focusing on W itself. There is broad agreement that an indicator for W should have multiple constituents, clearly going beyond gross domestic product. Here, we propose a tailor-made indicator to serve precisely this purpose following a set of specified desiderata, including its applicability to flexibly defined subnational populations by gender, place of residence, ethnicity, and other relevant characteristics. The indicator, years of good life (YoGL), reflects the evident fact that in order to be able to enjoy any quality of life, one has to be alive and thus is primarily based on life expectancy. However, since mere survival is not considered good enough, life years are counted conditional on meeting minimum standards in two dimensions: the objective dimension of capable longevity (consisting of being out of absolute poverty and enjoying minimal levels of physical and cognitive health) and the subjective dimension of overall life satisfaction. We illustrate the calculation of this indicator for countries and subpopulations at different stages of development and with different degrees of data availability.

For more information about how to participate in the cyberseminar visit PERN's webpage.

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