Social Climate

SWS’ Betterment Award

/ 05:08 AM September 07, 2019

This day (9/7/19) is very special for Social Weather Stations, which receives the 2019 Award for the Betterment of the Human Condition from the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) at this evening’s closing ceremony of its annual conference, at the University of Granada, Granada, Spain.

The Betterment award is ISQOLS’ ultimate award. It is given to an organization, either private or public, “for significant accomplishment in the development and use of quality of life (QOL) measures in serving its constituency.”


Previous Betterment awardees are: Legatum Institute, maker of the Legatum Prosperity Index (2018); the Gallup World Poll, which services several global indexes (2017); Halloran Philanthropies, sponsor of the 800-page “The Pursuit of Human Well-Being: the Untold Global History” (2016); the OECD Better Life Index (2015); the World Happiness Report (2014); the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (2012); Transparency International, for its Corruption Perceptions Index (2010); University of Florence, for research on children’s well-being (2009); New Economics Foundation, for its Happy Planet Index (2007); South African Institute of Race Relations (2006); Annie E. Casey Foundation, for its statistical reference Kids Count (2004); Kluwer Academic Publisher, for its Social Indicators research series (2003); Statistics Sweden (2001); the UNDP Human Development Index (2000); and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (1998). This award is not annual.

My colleagues and I have presented papers at many ISQOLS conferences since the 1990s, and made close friends. We are humbled for SWS, as an institution, to be listed with such distinguished company.


In the Granada conference, aside from representing SWS at the awarding ceremony, I joined a panel of other authors of the Halloran global history (Springer, 2017). The book has a chapter on “The History of Well-Being in Southeast Asia,” co-authored by historian Edilberto de Jesus, whose part was “The emergence of modern Southeast Asia,” dealing with the region’s pre-independence history, and by myself, who did “Well-being in contemporary Southeast Asia.”

My objective in the panel was to update the Southeast Asian history with new data. The chapter had used, among other things, the Global Peace Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Corruptions Perceptions Index, the Human Development Index, the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, subjective indicators of subjective health and happiness from the World Values Survey, and the Cantril Ladder Index from the Gallup World Poll.

It was very disconcerting to see that the Philippines, in 2019, now has the worst IEP peace index score of all countries in Southeast Asia. This is a significant worsening from 2014, the date of the chapter’s last peace index, when the Philippines and Myanmar were tied for the worst place. This cannot be good news for our government’s security experts.

The IEP peace index is very detailed, with each country scored by experts on the state of peace along the themes of militarization (7 indicators), societal safety and security (10 indicators), and domestic and international conflict (5 indicators). It cannot be discussed in a column; but presumably it stands up to scientific scrutiny.

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TAGS: 2019 Award for the Betterment of the Human Condition, award, Philippines, Social Weather Stations, survey
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