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The last mile in analysing well-being and poverty: Indices of Social Development

Arjan de Haan et al.
Publication year: 
Source of the information: 
Institute for Security Studies - ISS


Development practitioners worldwide increasingly recognize the importance of informal institutions - such as norms of cooperation, non-discrimination, or the role of community oversight in the management of investment activities – in affecting well-being, poverty, and even economic growth. While there have been many country- or region-specific studies that explore relationships between such social development indicators and other development outcomes, there has been less empirical analysis that tests these relationships at the international level. This is largely due to data limitations: few reliable, globally-representative data sources exist that can provide a basis for cross-country comparison of social norms and practice, social trust and community engagement.
The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) now hosts a large database of social development indicators compiled from a wide range of sources in a first attempt to overcome such data constraints, at a low cost (
The Indices of Social Development (ISD) are based on over 200 measures from 25 reputable data sources for the years 1990 to 2010. These measures are aggregated into five composite indices: civic activism, interpersonal safety and trust, inter-group cohesion, clubs and associations, and gender equity/equality and non-discrimination against women.

This paper presents this database, highlight the differences, similarities and complementarities with other measures of well-being, including.