A systems description of the national well-being system. Version 1.0

Ilmola-Sheppard L, Strelkovskii N ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6862-1768, Rovenskaya E, Abramzon S, & Bar R (2020). A systems description of the national well-being system. Version 1.0. IIASA Working Paper. Laxenburg, Austria: WP-20-003

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Abstract

Policymakers are confronted with hard-to-address questions, such as
• What is the ultimate impact of very different policies on the well-being of citizens?
• How to anticipate, which policies will promote well-being the most and which ones will lead to tough trade-offs?
• How to focus scarce resources and maximize the positive impact on the well-being of citizens?
Economic growth is ceasing down, and, moreover, in most of the developed countries additional growth does not promote the well-being of citizens as much as it used to. But what is well-being? According to a dictionary, well-being is a state of feeling happy, healthy or prosperous. In 1980s, a group of sociologists, philosophers and economists led by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum suggested a framework to understand well-being beyond the economic indicators , such as the GDP. In fact, in the modern world, wellbeing itself becomes a prerequisite for economic growth and for social and economic stability.
Governments begin to focus their attention directly on the multi-dimensional national well-being including and going beyond economic and material aspects. They look for new under-utilized resources that would raise the national well-being even despite weak economic growth. To discover effective and efficient solutions, one needs to maximize synergies and reduce losses from trade-offs . Systems analysis offers tools to do so.
This challenge was presented to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) by the National Economic Council of Israel in 2018. In response, IIASA developed a pilot version of a systems description of the national well-being system that covers four major subsystems: economic subsystem, natural subsystem, human capacity subsystem, and social subsystem, each described by a set of indicators. This Working Paper presents the results of this pilot work.
We rely on the OECD well-being framework as a basis to measure multi-dimensional well-being and work with 68 factors, of which 39 represent the OECD indicators. Based on evidence we collate from solid scientific literature, we connect these 68 factors by causal relationships and obtain a comprehensive systems map of the National Well-being System (NWS) (a causal loop diagram) comprising 208 directed links between factors.
This systems map allows to trace all indirect effects and feedback loops between factors in a systematic fashion thus helping acquire a holistic understanding about the national well-being system. Empirical evidence clearly indicates that systems thinking is difficult to practice when causal interconnections become more complex, especially when it involves indirect effects and feedback loops. As a formal tool from qualitative systems analysis, our NWS map can assist policymakers to reveal trade-offs and synergies, reduce the problem’s “wickedness” and discipline a dialogue.
This version 1.0 can and should be developed further. This includes expert validation and fine-tuning, as well as customizing it to particular national and policy contexts. Eventually, our ambition is to develop a policy simulation tool that enables comparison of different policy options and their ultimate impact on well-being.
We invite interested parties to join us in this endeavour!

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2020 06:39
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2020 06:39
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/16318

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