The Programme for Government acknowledged that our “existing measures of economic performance fail to measure matters such as damage to the environment and voluntary work. They also overlook equality of opportunity, distribution of wealth and income and only value public expenditure on the basis of the inputs used, not the outcomes achieved” and committed to introducing a series of indicators that would more accurately measure wellbeing to provide a “holistic view of how our society is faring”.
A ‘Wellbeing Dashboard’ was then developed to provide a snapshot of progress. In developing the Dashboard, the Inter-Departmental Working Group established a list of 35 indicators chosen to be balanced, add value or be of policy relevance, provide for aggregation and dis-aggregation, be readily available and of sufficient quality, and be internationally comparable.
So how are we doing? To gauge public opinion on what matters, and what should therefore be counted as an indicator of Well-being, Social Justice Ireland produced a survey asking people to rank a set of six indicators under each of the Well-being Framework dimensions from one to six, with one being the least important and six being the most important. The six indicators included the indicators used in the Dashboard and datasets readily available from the CSO and other reputable sources. This survey was circulated over the Summer months through our social media channels, our Weekly Digest, and our Members Bulletin. What follows is based on the responses to this survey and our policy proposals under each of the 11 dimensions.
The indicators with the highest weighted ranking under this dimension were Inability to afford adequate healthcare; Outpatient and In-patient Waiting Lists; and Self-reported unmet need for medical attention. The Irish Health Survey 2019 indicates that while two per cent of the population reported an unmet need for health care due to transport or distance, 14 per cent of the population reported an unmet need due to waiting times. The proportion for people who were classified as “very disadvantaged” increases to 18 per cent, almost double that of “very affluent” people (10 per cent) (Chart 1).
Chart 1: % Population with unmet health care needs deprivation quintile and reason, 2019