WP5 – Influence of Composite Indicators
Composite indicators are thematically aggregated indicators, which often play a specific role in ‘shaping the frameworks of thought’ of policy actors, by raising awareness, drawing attention to specific policy issues or helping to set policy priorities. Their influence mechanisms differ from those of e.g. sectoral indicators, and they mobilise diffusion canals differently. For instance, some composite indicators often generate plenty of media attention, and can therefore have significant indirect policy influence.
Composite indicators have been developed to measure issues such as welfare (Measure of Economic Welfare); well-being (e.g. Index of Sustainable Economic Well-being); human development (e.g. Human Development Index); environmental sustainability (e.g. Environmental Sustainability Index); environmental carrying capacity (e.g. ecological footprint); equity; corruption and transparency; happiness; innovation; and general social progress. Most of these indicators seek to provide a multidimensional measure of societal progress, as opposed to the one-dimensional indicators traditionally used to measure economic and social development (e.g. GDP, inflation rate or unemployment rate).
This work package investigates the influence chains of composite indicators, and recommends more fruitful ways to design, communicate and use composite indicators.
To find out about first results on the reporting of composite indices in the UK media, see POINT policy briefing 2.