Community Well-being Research

We conduct a survey on the level of community well-being in Korea to understand the reality of community well-being, discover and diagnose well-being communities.

1. Overview

  • Wellbeing in a regional unit of community, beyond the individual, subjective levels, has increasingly piqued interests of scholars of the world. Previous studies on wellbeing tended to focus on concepts that are usually measured on individual units of analysis such as quality of life, happiness, and life satisfaction. However, community-based wellbeing focuses on the collective aspect of wellbeing while it is also considered as an umbrella concept that encompasses individual wellbeing, too.

  • CWB(Community Well-Being) is not a mere application of personal wellbeing or happiness to a community level, but a concept revolving around the communities’ regional assets. One way to measure CWB in a given community is collecting data on the community members’ intersubjective evaluations of their satisfaction level and quality of life based on their community’s assets. Community Wellbeing Research Center of GSPA(Graduate School of Public Administration), Seoul National University has been one of the leading pioneers in the field of CWB.

  • Community Wellbeing Research Center(CWRC) formulated its own index of CWB utilizing various regional assets of communities and is currently on the verge of developing Gloabl Community Well-Being Index(GCWBI). CWRC attempts to measure CWB in South Korea by conducting Community Wellbeing survey. Continuous review and improvements on the index has promoted its reliability as an indicator for CWB.

  • This institute has developed and distributed CWBI (Community Well-being Indicators) as a measurement model for community well-being and has been applied to community well-being measurements in Korea.

2. Characteristics of Community Well-being Survey

  • Using the six-capital model and CWI, a multi-dimensional indicator model, it is possible to measure the overall and sectoral living conditions, and to measure the living conditions of each local government.

  • Residents' Evaluation against Importance: It not only measures the residents' evaluation of living conditions, but also calculates the index by aggregating the importance and resident evaluation of each measurement item. By preparing for the importance and evaluation of residents, we compare the status of importance and use it for policy suggestions.

  • Utilization of the Intersubjective Indicators: Existing surveys are based on subjective indicators asking for individual satisfaction. However, individual satisfaction does not properly represent the living conditions of the community. The living conditions of the community and individual satisfaction vary depending on the individual's tendency or situation. Therefore, the existing survey has measured the living conditions of the community based on the average response of many individuals. For the first time, this survey was conducted to measure the living conditions of the community based on the intersubjective response of residents.

  • Practical prescription: Use as a basic data to analyze the cause and make appropriate policy prescriptions for regions with a large gap in importance versus assessment.

3. The Framework of Community Well-being Survey

  • This institute and GSPA developed the Community Wellbeing Index (CWI), a multi-dimensional measurement model consisting of six sub-regions, to measure the well-being of the community.​​

  • CWI consists of 6 capitals, 15 sub-capitals, and 47 indicators : Human Development(education, health, welfare), Economics(employment, regional economy), Environment(physical and ecological environments), Infrastructure(housing, ICT, transportation, safety), Society(community relations, citizenship, trust, culture).

  • Each indicator is designed to give respondents subjective satisfaction and evaluation of their communities through the question "How do you rate the quality of life in your area?". 

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4. Importance of Intersubjective indicators

  • Indicators are basically divided into objective and subjective indicators. Objective indicators do not reflect the opinions of the subject or subject of investigation and are indicators that can be identified equally with anyone from the perspective of a third party depending on the objective status.​ For example, objective conditions such as income, employment rate, and housing conditions are objective indicators that can be measured in a standardized way. GDP, which has traditionally been used as a measure of national development, is a representative objective indicator. Among well-being indicators, HDI is a representative objective indicator. Objective indicators have great advantages in measuring and comparing material elements, but they are difficult to measure the same subjective evaluation as well as measurement problems due to the constraints on the availability of data.​

  • Measurements of living conditions and well-being heavily depend on subjective indicators that rely on subjective evaluations of respondents, such as survey. For example, the UN's WHI and OECD's BLI are measuring how happy respondents feel from a subjective well-being perspective. Subjective indicators are used not only in areas such as one's mood or satisfaction, but also in evaluating one's satisfaction with one's environment. As subjective indicators mainly measure responses to questions, if respondents do not respond based on a common background or value, the results may be criticized as unreasonable.​

  • Overall, objective indicators have advantages of ensuring the objectivity of measurement but, highly limited of data acquisition. On the other hand, the subject indicator is relatively easy to acquire data, so the measurement range is flexible, but there is a limit to securing the objectivity of measurement. Then, is there any alternative indicator that can overcome the limitations while emphasizing the merits of both sides? The community well-being research center utilizes intersubjective measures as a useful alternative to having that possibility.

5. What is Intersubjective Indicators?

  • Intersubjective indicator is an indicator concept based on 'intersubjectivity'. Intersubjective indicator assumes that values or perception can be shared among multiple individuals rather than experienced at the individual level, enabling people to collectively understand how the community is viewed as they belong. 

  • In other words, Intersubjective indicator means that individuals have the cognitive ability to make certain judgments or evaluations on a collective level beyond the individual level. In this context, Intersubjective indicator measures the subjective assessment of the respondent's objective state. Intersubjective indicator is subjective in the sense of individual evaluation, but it seeks objectivity in that the direction of evaluation is not related to itself and it is aimed at encompassing the evaluation of the entire member's objective state. 

  • Since the measurement of community well-being evaluates the living conditions of the region as a member of the local residents, it is desirable to use a intersubjective indicator (evaluation) rather than a subjective indicator (satisfaction). Itersubjective indicator is based on individual responses in the measurement method, so it is similar to the subject indicator in appearance. However, Intersubjective indicator shows a difference in asking the assessment at the community level, not at the individual level. For example, the subject indicator measures the individual satisfaction level of the respondent by asking such questions as "Are you satified with the wellbeing level of your community?", on the other hand, Intersubjective indicator wants to measure personal 'assessment' of the community dimension rather than individual 'satisfaction' of the respondent by asking such questions as "How do you evaluate the wellbeing level of your community?" In addition, Intersubjective indicator is through subjective form, but it goes beyond subjective and aims for objectivity.

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