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Systematization of best international practices of monitoring quality of life of the population and development the recommendations for a comprehensive system of well-being measurement in Russia

Priority areas of development: economics, management
2020

The object of study is well-being and quality of life assessment systems.

Objective

To prepare a practical guide on integrated methods for population’s well-being assesment and to develop the recommendations for creating a comprehensive evaluation of well-being in the Russian Federation.

Research methods:

  • Time-series analysis of real-time income indicators and its components in terms of nominal and real value;

  • Chained indices construction to assess cumulative change in household incomes, its components, as well as consumption indicators during the entire period of economic instability;

  • Statistical modeling of economic and social policies impact on the wage and pension levels of the Russian population (micromodeling);

  • Coding and various methods of statistical data analysis using the all-Russian representative empirical studies to assess the size and structure of middle class, as well as various types of inequality.

The empirical corpus of study:

  • Real-time statistics of the Federal State Statistics Service of Russia (Rosstat), published monthly on the official website of the agency;

  • Sample surveys data, including the longitudinal survey “Russian Monitoring of the Economic Situation and Health of the Population” by the Higher School of Economics (HSE RLMS), as well as selected observation study "Comprehensive observation of population’s living conditions 2011, 2014 and 2018";

  • Statistical data of the Unified Interdepartmental Information and Statistical System (EMISS), which unites official statistical resources generated by the official statistical accounting as part of federal statistics working plan implementation

  • Statistical data from international organizations, non-profit organizations and government organizations on well-being and quality of life assesments of different groups of population (elderly, children) in various countries and regions.

The results of the study

A modern approach to assessment is to consider the well-being as a multidimensional phenomenon, i.e. to assess the progress in most significant areas of life for an individual, and each of these areas can be measured by several parameters, which include both objective and subjective indicators, (for example, job satisfaction). The balance between objective and subjective indicators makes it possible to conduct the most accurate assessment of life quality. A comprehensive well-being assessment can be carried out for different purposes: as a tool for international comparisons, as a tool for assessing progress in various areas of well-being in a country, as part of the budget planning process, or to assess the prospects of territorial development; to measure poverty and failure.

Also, depending on the goals, the assessment of well-being and design of corresponding indices can occur at different levels: starting from the cross-country level (for example, the OECD Better Life Index is built for 40 countries) and to a very micro level (for example, the Scottish Multiple Deprivation Index, which is created for the so-called "data zones" with an average of 800 people living in it).

The systematization of methodological approaches showed that assessments, regardless of the form, are based on a very serious scientific analysis and reflect a well-grounded conceptual model of well-being, which is consistent with the objectives of assessment and reflects aspects of well-being that are important from research developers. This conceptual model determines the choice of indicators, the functionality of an index, standardization procedures, weighting and other methodological procedures. An important aspect of index estimations is accounting for inequality.

In the Russian Federation, there is already a serious amount of statistical information that can be taken into account for assessing well-being: various executive agencies and ministries collect official statistics on various aspects of economy and population, collect information on implementation indicators of national projects, federal policy targets and regional programs, conduct regular statistical surveys.

For each area of well-being assessment, we can select the indicators that are available in dynamics over a sufficiently long period of time, including not only Russia as a whole, but also the regional context (up to the level of regions). The only exceptions are the areas measured exclusively by subjective indicators - Society and Life Satisfaction. Subjective indicators (its source is survey data) are available only at the country level as a whole or with a breakdown by type of settlement ("city - village"). Some of the indicators taken from the COLC may be available with a breakdown by federal district.

Thus, at the moment, the construction of an index for regional comparison is only possible by using objective indicators, which means that such assessment cannot include the important area of life satisfaction that is present in majority of international and national assessments. It should be noted that the government should stimulate the development of opinion polls and longitudinal studies to analyze subjective assessment of population’s well-being and level of life satisfaction. The inclusion of such methods could become an integral part of impact assessment and be used in evaluation the long-term effects of national projects implementation and federal targeted programs together with the already existing systems of indicators.

Systems for assessing the well-being of opulation can be used to conduct emergency surveys and study a daily life of citizens in an emergency situation. The main advantages of this tool are: the availability of developed and validated questions for taking into account the opinions of population, many years of experience in collecting data in this format, integration into existing regular population surveys, fast data collection, accumulated data from previous years to allow comparisons, as well as clarity of provided information.

A large number of indices and systems for assessing various groups of population, including elderly and children, have been developed and are being applied in practice.

The scores and indices used to measure the well-being of children are always reviewed across several thematic domains, and some of these domains (family wealth, education, health, safety, mental well-being) are used in one form or another in almost all the indices and rating systems.

Scientists declare a “child-centered” approach (the source of indicators should be the children themselves) and the use of “positive” assessments.However, the limits of comparable data for different countries required to construct international indices leads to the situations, when not only subjective indicators, but also objective indicators are in place.

According to the analysis of international and foreign indices, the quality of life of older generation can be assessed based on the data of international surveys. Such indices allow to compare different countries with each other. Research centers are also involved in studying the quality of life of the elderly. They develop the indices to compare a range of countries, as well as the country-specific indices, mostly based on their own surveys. Some of them are devoted to the living standards of the elderly people living in special institutions.

The relative indicators of variation calculated for the well-being index of older generation and its domains indicate a significant variation in the quality of life of older generation. The largest variation is observed in the education and employment. Despite of strong territorial differences in the socio-economic development of Russia, the subjectively perceived inequality of the elderly is not as significant as in other areas of life quality.

Comparison of most vulnerable group of elderly in terms of quality of life and most prosperous group of old people allows us to conclude that old individuals are vulnerable in terms of life quality; especially, the women and rural residents, residents of small settlements, lonely elderly and people with low quality of human capital (poor health and low level of education) All this correlates with the results of international studies and shows that the vulnerable groups in terms of life quality in Russia are similar to other countries.

Implementation level, recommendations for implementation, or implementation results of the study

We used the individual research results in preparation of analytical notes and expert opinions during 2019-2020, and presented it at various scientific events. The results of study can be used to improve and expand social policy measures to achieve the national goal of ensuring sustainable real income growth of Russian citizens and other goals of national policy, as well as to improve overall well-being of population.