New Survey Seeks to Gauge Quality-of-Life Indicators
Using a novel approach, which is currently being explored by governments in
France and Britain, Somerville's survey will provide data about the perspective of residents and their life satisfaction. With assistance from Daniel Gilbert, a professor of Psychology at Somerville Harvard University who is internationally recognized for his research on happiness, Somerville will become the first community in the to undertake this approach. Research on the subject in United States Europe has helped focus policy making decisions more directly on quality of life issues.
Tara Acker, Director of the City’s SomerStat program, the idea is to use data from the survey to gain a more holistic view of city services.
“Through previous community outreach, particularly the City’s ResiStat program, we have a good understanding of the political and economic condition of
. Now we want to look beyond those factors to understand more subjective variables,” which, she explained, will include “measures of happiness, and even how residents rate the aesthetic quality of the City.” Somerville
Pairing survey results with other data,
hopes to gain new policy insights. “It makes sense to think about the broad picture,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, “and my administration has always pursued policies that improve residents’ well-being. Particularly in difficult economic climates, we strive to ensure the best quality of life for our community members, including the accurate, courteous and efficient delivery of services. At the end of the day, making life better for the people who live and work in this city is our primary job.” Somerville
Mayor Curtatone added that
is fortunate to be able to work with an esteemed partner in Professor Gilbert, whose book Stumbling on Happiness is a New York Times bestseller. “The idea that governments can and should measure well-being is new and innovative, and I’m honored that Professor Gilbert has offered to guide us through this process with his expertise,” said Mayor Curtatone. Somerville
The City will look to make this the first in a series of surveys on well-being. With
Britain’s recent announcement of a nationwide “well-being index,” may be part of a growing movement to use such data to inform public policy. Somerville
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