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Vic Branch – Measuring Well-being

  • 31 Mar 2020
  • 6:30 PM - 7:45 PM (UTC+11:00)
  • Zoom teleconference (details will be announced to registrants)

Registration is closed

This is the first talk of the year for SSA Vic.  It will be preceded by its AGM.  (For details of the AGM and to register, visit this event.)

Measuring Well-being

Historically GDP has generally been used as a measure of national well-being although it was never designed for this purpose. The Australian Bureau of Statistics was the first national statistical office to publish an alternative approach with its Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP) publication first released in 2002. This attracted global interest and an invitation for Dennis to be a keynote speaker at OECD’s first World Forum entitled Statistics, Knowledge and Policy. Discussions at the Forum led the OECD to begin its Beyond GDP initiative which has, in turn, inspired a number of countries and jurisdictions within countries to look at alternative ways of measuring progress on well-being with some going as far as incorporating measures within their budgetary process (e.g. New Zealand) and their performance being judged on well-being as well as economic measures. For example, the ACT Chief Minister has recently announced that it will be developing a set of well-being indicators to enable an assessment of Government performance with the Chief Minister releasing the proposed indicators on Canberra Day in March 2020.

Dennis' talk will describe the main methods for measuring well-being (composite index of well-being indicators, suite of indicators as was used for MAP, and adjusted GDP) with real examples of all methods both nationally and internationally. The talk will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and discuss the underlying conceptual and statistical frameworks. In particular, it will discuss the statistical issues associated with compiling a composite index of indicators where there can be significant differences in their volatility over time. This will be demonstrated by the early work for compiling composite indicators for the Australian National Development Index (ANDI).

Dennis Trewin AO FASSA, Former Australian Statistician


Dennis Trewin was the Australian Statistician and head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics from July 2000 until January 2007. Prior to that he was Deputy Australian Statistician and, from 1992 to 1995, Deputy Government Statistician in New Zealand. He has been working as a statistical consultant on assignment with a range of countries and with the UN, OECD and World Bank.

Dennis has held a number of other positions such as an Australian Electoral Commissioner, an Associate Commissioner at the Productivity Commission for the study into the Not for Profit Sector, and a Trustee and Board member for the Australian Government Superannuation Fund. He has been Chairman of the Advisory Board of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Chairman of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and the Australian Mathematics Trust. He is or has been an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne, Curtin University, University of Canberra and the University of the South Pacific, and a Council Member of the University of Canberra. He has been recognised as an Officer in the Order of Australia, received a Centenary Medal for his contribution to statistics and an honorary doctorate from James Cook University.

Internationally, Dennis has been President of the International Statistical Institute and the International Association of Survey Statisticians. He was Chairman of the Global Executive Board for the 2005 round of the World Bank's International Comparison Program.

Slides and recordings

Media from the event can be found at the following links.

Video: https://vimeo.com/ssavic/2020331-trewin
Audio: https://tinyurl.com/ssavic-2020331-trewin
Slides: https://tinyurl.com/ssavic-2020331-trewin-slides
Responses to questions: https://tinyurl.com/ssavic-2020331-trewin-answers

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