Today the Government published a Second Report on Ireland’s Well-being Framework – ‘Understanding Life in Ireland: A Well-being Framework’. The Framework is about helping improve our understanding of quality of life in Ireland and measuring how we are doing overall as a country. It does this by bringing economic, societal and environmental impacts together under one Framework. It also places a particular focus on equality and sustaining well-being into the future. It includes 11 dimensions of well-being, which capture the areas that matter most to the people of Ireland for a good quality of life, areas such as housing, skills, work, health and community.
This Report reflects a second phase of work on the well-being initiative, testing and updating the initial framework, which was published last year (First Report on Ireland’s Well-being Framework). This included comprehensive consultation seeking feedback on what is important for well-being, alongside specific research including on sustainability. The Report outlines the longer-term approach and governance structures for embedding the Framework into the Irish policymaking system over time, including into the Budget process.
This includes the development of an analysis of the well-being dashboard, which will be reflected annually in the Summer Economic Statement, at the National Economic Dialogue, and as part of Budget day documents.
As a first step, a report reviewing Ireland’s performance across the 35 indicators contained in the CSO’s Well-being Information Hub has also been published today - Understanding Life in Ireland: A Well-being Dashboard. Overall, the dashboard paints a generally positive longer-term picture of quality of life in Ireland. Ireland performs well in 20 of the 35 indicators. Across the 11 dimensions of well-being, there are particularly positive indications across Knowledge, Skills & Innovation; Work & Job Quality, and Safety & Security. One dimension reveals a negative overall picture, that is Environment, Climate & Biodiversity. The data also examines groups of people that experience inequality across a high proportion of the indicators and also ‘tags’ and examines certain indicators to highlight their importance for sustainable well-being (spread across economic, environmental, social & democratic areas).
Speaking today, the Taoiseach said:
“I am pleased to publish this Second Report on Ireland’s Well-being Framework, which demonstrates the advancement on this important Programme for Government commitment. We can now begin to use this novel approach to explore and consider progress in Ireland beyond economic measures, commencing with the initial analysis of the Dashboard published today. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those stakeholders, experts, groups and of course the members of the public who took the time to input into the development of this Framework. This has helped make it a useful tool for better understanding – and therefore over time improving – the quality of life of the people of Ireland. Mar a deireann an seanfhocal: Chíonn beirt rud nach bhfeiceann duine amháin.”
The Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, said:
“I am delighted to see Ireland following in the footsteps of other countries such as New Zealand, Germany and Wales in developing a well-being framework. The framework underscores the need for concerted action on policy objectives that have historically been secondary to economic growth. These include protecting our natural environment, safeguarding our children’s mental health and caring for our most vulnerable people. I look forward to engaging with my colleagues to ensure that the framework has a meaningful impact on Budget 2023.”
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform joined in welcoming the Report:
“The past two years have highlighted the importance of measuring the progress of our country in ways that go beyond traditional metrics like GDP. If we are going to tackle the inequalities experienced across society we need to measure outcomes in the broadest possible sense. The Second Report on Ireland’s Well-being Framework provides a vital resource to help quantify the impact of public expenditure and ensure it is delivering the impact we want. The Government is determined that well-being will be at the heart of public policy decisions to ensure progress is made in areas such as employment prospects for marginalised individuals, improving access to life-long educational opportunities and delivering improved health outcomes.”
Reports available at: www.gov.ie/wellbeing-framework
Ireland’s Well-being Framework is the result of a Programme for Government commitment to develop a set of well-being indices to create a well-rounded, holistic view of how Irish society is faring. The overarching vision for the Well-being Framework is enabling all our people to live fulfilled lives now and into the future. As other countries have done, work on this initiative is being progressed on a phased basis.
The first phase of this work culminated in a First Report on a Well-being Framework for Ireland, which was approved by Government and subsequently published in July 2021. It was informed by significant consultation with stakeholders, carried out by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). The Report included a guiding vision and goals, an initial Conceptual Framework for Ireland and a static supporting dashboard of indicators, and committed to a second phase of work to test the initial framework.
Phase two of this work was rooted in wide-ranging consultation and bespoke research, and included the launch of a Well-being Portal, and the CSO’s Well-being Information Hub, providing comprehensive accessible information and an interactive dashboard of key indicators respectively.
This Second Report captures the outcomes of this second phase of work, reflected in an updated Well-being Framework for Ireland, which includes 11 dimensions of Well-being, and sustainability (via a tagging approach) and equality as cross-cutting themes. It also includes an approach for embedding this initiative over time into policymaking, including:
- Annual published high-level analysis of the well-being dashboard and incorporation into the Budget process;
- complementary continued embedding into expenditure and evaluation policy:
- Promotion of relevant research and policy developments; and
- clear supporting structures and opportunities for engagement.
This cross-government initiative will continue to be led by the Department of the Taoiseach, and jointly sponsored by the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.
Well-being Framework: Goals and Dimensions
The overarching goals of the framework are to:
- Enable people to have purposeful lives that support good physical and mental health, enabling development of skills across the life cycle and providing a good standard of living;
- Ensure a sustainable sense of place, including through an appropriate and safe place to live and protection of Ireland’s environment, climate and biodiversity; and
- Preserve balance, inclusivity and equality of opportunities across society with open and effective government, empowering families, friends and communities to grow, connect and meaningfully engage. The Framework encompasses 11 areas or dimensions, and two cross-cutting themes, sustainability and equality. These are:
- Subjective wellbeing
- Mental and physical health
- Income and wealth
- Knowledge, skills and innovation
- Housing and the built environment
- Environment, climate and biodiversity
- Safety and security
- Work and job quality (paid and unpaid)
- Time use
- Community, connections and participation
- Civic engagement, trust and cultural expression
Analysis Report - ‘Understanding Life in Ireland: the Well-being Dashboard’
The analysis of the Dashboard is intended to provide an overall picture of the country’s progress, using data that facilitates a longer-term view of quality of life, and will form a valuable input to the Budget process. The dashboard includes 35 indicators divided across the 11 dimensions of the Framework. The analysis reviews trends over approximately 5-year periods and international comparisons.
Overall, the dashboard paints a generally positive picture of quality of life in Ireland. Across the 35 indicators, Ireland performs well in 20 indicators. 6 indicators show negative performance and the performance of the remaining 9 indicators are more nuanced.
There are particularly positive indications across the dimensions of Knowledge, Skills & Innovation; Work & Job Quality and Safety & Security. One dimension reveals a negative overall picture, that is the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity dimension, in particular issues with environmental quality and greenhouse gas emissions. On equality, several cohorts were identified that experience inequality across a high proportion of indicators. These are women, single-parent households, households with lower incomes, people with permanent sickness or disability, immigrants/non-Irish, and households in rented accommodation.
While overall the dashboard provides a positive picture of the country, it points towards specific areas that suggest sustained issues over the medium-term across quality of life, sustainability and equality. It highlights differing experiences when progress is examined for specific cohorts and distributions. More detail can be found in the Report.