[2010-01-29 HDI 20th Anniversary] Assessment of Local Development through HDI and Subjective Well Being for Public Policy (Kusago, T.)

Assessment of Local Development through HDI and Subjective Well Being for Public Policy presented at the Human Development Index 20th Anniversary Conference, at Cambridge, UK, on the 28-29 January 2010 by Mr. Takayoshi Kusago, Kansai University


To evaluate Development progress, given economic aspect as the most important element of overall well-being of people, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has become the key development indicator a good proxy measurement of a country’s economic development. On the other hand, we have witnessed the rising concern over social problems, ranging from demise of local communities, environmental degradation, increase in crime, people suffering from stress and suicide cases, in many of developed countries. With these emerging problems and concerns, more and more researchers and practitioners have come to realize that economic well-being is not the only dimension we should care for in order to value a people’s well-being. Rather, holistic well-being, combining economic and non-economic aspects, needs to be examined carefully so that we could capture people’s real well-being. On this regard, from its onset in 1990, Human Development Index (HDI) has been playing a significant role to evaluate social and economic condition of a local area through the three key dimensions such as decent economic basis, access to knowledge and wisdom, and long and healthy life. HDI certainly has widened our scope of evaluation of people’s human potential and capability as an ultimate goal of social and economic development. HDI has stimulated discussions on overall people’s well-being and needs of policies to improve human development in the world. Lately, studies on subjective well-being (SWB) have received serious attention and the number of academic paper has increased in psychology, sociology, and now in economics. Yet, we know very little about relationship between objective measures such as GDP and HDI and subjective measures such as SWB. Thus, this paper focuses on this issue using GDP, HDI and SWB data at the prefecture level in Japan to see if there is some linkage among GDP, HDI and SWB so that we could choose appropriate development measures for policy-makings better for people’s well-beings improvement.