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How to measure wellbeing?

Wellbeing can be – and is being – measured at the local, national, and international levels.

There are a range of approaches to measure wellbeing, suited for different contexts and aims.

Our approach

The Centre looks at National Wellbeing and its drivers, with a particular focus on the quality of life metrics: 

Harmonised standards and guidance are tools for improving the comparability and coherence of statistics. In some circumstances, it is not appropriate to suggest harmonised questions and definitions.

Explore advice by sector below.

How to measure wellbeing?

Governments – national, devolved, local and wider public sector

Whether you are an elected member, an analyst, a policy official, a public health commissioner, or other part of government your remit will have specific objectives. Yet your overarching aim in central or local government is to improve people’s lives. 

Good advice for decision-making should consider all the important impacts on people’s lives. There are a number of indicators that and guidance for measuring wellbeing, which we can use to develop and deliver better policies.

A wellbeing approach means:

  • focusing on a broader range of outcomes than you might traditionally e.g not just GDP or life expectancy although they are still important 
  • focusing on outcomes rather than activity – what difference did it make?  These outcomes can also be goals like the SDGS that help focus shared activity towards a positive idea of progress. 
  • focusing on outcomes that really matter to peoples lives specifically subjective personal wellbeing 
  • Broad measures means introduces using frameworks or dashboards for doing this overall e.g. bringing economic, social, environmental together 
  •  broader measures within specific department areas too e.g. within health or economy.  so looking at quality of life not just length of life and jobs & cost of living not just GDP
  • using objective measures such as crime rates or GDP but also subjective measures of do I feel safe alone at night or do I feel better off.  This mix leads to different policy choices because it helps understand the problem better
  • it means looking at and building ‘capital’ too to help with sustainability of wellbeing and intergenerational impacts – human, mental, social, natural, economic 


Close Governments – national, devolved, local and wider public sector

Workplace and employers

Charities, social enterprises and community groups


Evaluating wellbeing: six steps

You may be interested in…

    What is wellbeing?

    What affects wellbeing?

    How to improve wellbeing?