Malta is a step closer to having a yardstick with which to measure the true well-being of the population, providing a tool to steer policy.

The development of this yardstick is one of the goals towards developing the Malta Well-being Index.

Lead project researcher Marie Briguglio said: “We owe it to the population to help them be critical thinkers. This is what the project is all about… the recognition that a nation’s thermometer goes beyond GDP metrics is growing.

“Availability of a wider set of metrics will hold policy accountable to a multiplicity of goals, not just GDP.”

Having a clear yardstick, she elaborated, would provide a tool for critical thinking so that politicians can no longer “cherry pick” data to paint a rosy or doom-and-gloom picture that suits them best without being questioned by their audience.

She was speaking in parliament during an event held one year after the launch of the Malta Well-being Index, a project between the Malta Foundation for the Well-being of Society and the University of Malta.

Briguglio and her team provided an update of the progress so far.

She urged researchers and stakeholders involved in well-being projects to come forward and form part of Malta’s first well-being index initiative.

Carl Camilleri, from the University of Malta’s Economics Department, said that part of the project involved looking at other countries’ well-being indicators, to then establish those indicators that are most relevant to well-being in Malta.

There are different indexes that measure elements of well-being at global or EU level. While Malta did well when measured on certain global indexes, it did not fair too well at EU level.

However, he cautioned, the EU index was only carried out once (in 2020) as opposed to the other global ones carried out regularly over the decades.

According to 2019 data, Malta placed 28th out of 190 countries on the Human Development Index that looks at three indicators:  health, standard of living and education.

When it came to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Global Index, Malta placed 33rd of 193 countries in 2021.

However, in the SDG EU Index it placed 27th out of 31. This was the only year in which the EU Index was carried out.

When looking at the Gross Domestic Product Per Capita Index of 2020, Malta ranked 31st of 195 countries and, in the Global Competitive Index of 2019, it held 38th position out of 141.

Yesterday also marked the launch of the website that aims to serve as a one-stop website where all well-being metrics are compiled.

Malta Foundation for the Well-being of Society chair, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, said: “The research into the well-being of society’s different segments is intended to guide policy.

“Now, more than ever, there has to be a shift where well-being becomes the overarching aim of various policy efforts as the world moves towards recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing climate change through sustainable development.”

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