Economics and Politics of Development: The Index Assignment
here is not one universally acceptable index – and indices are continually being derived which purport to give a better perspective on well-being. The Happy Planet Index (HPI, available at https://www.happyplanetindex.org/index.htm), for example, represents one such attempt to newly measure national/personal welfare. It is novel in the sense that, while other indicators have focussed on income ? unmet basic needs, life expectancy and the like ? the HPI also attempts to evaluate life satisfaction and the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is being delivered. Its principal message is: Does happiness have to cost the Earth?
Your task then is to devise and construct your own development index. It could be health, wealth, education, safety, human rights, environment, democratic, digitally related – in other words, you have complete freedom of choice [in fact we strongly encourage you to think creatively and come up with a novel index using the variety of indicators available]. The assignment should be presented in the form of a 2,000 word report entitled:
The ********** (name of your index): An Index to ***** ( brief explanation of what the index seeks to do).
The report should consist of five sections:
Rationale for the index. Here you should explain why you feel a new index is necessary (and why existing indices are inadequate/unable to capture this aspect of welfare/development) – IE: WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO MEASURE. This part of the report should probably be around 250-300 words long.
Components of Index. Here you should identify, one by one, the components of your index (eg. GDP, life expectancy – or whatever). You should explain how/why they are important in terms of what you are trying to measure, and the sources where you have obtained the data, Discuss too reasons why countries ‘score’ differently on each component – and try to explain any unexpectedly high or low rankings. For each component, produce a table giving the data for TEN countries [9 developing, 1 developed] – and ‘standardise’ the index with regard to the ‘best performing country’ (see accompanying sheet). Your index should have at least four components. This part of the Report should be around 1,000+ words long.
Construction of your Index. One of the most important aspects of index construction is the ‘weighting’ of the different components. IE: HOW IMPORTANT IS EACH COMPONENT. Here you should explain how/why you are weighting the components – and compute the final ‘definitive’ table which allows the TEN countries you have selected to be ranked. This part should probably be around 300 words long.
Critique of your Index. Here you should discuss your findings (which countries came top/bottom and why) before identifying the shortcomings in both your Index – and the components thereof – and discuss what a subsequent improved variant of your index might/might not include. This part will probably be around 300+ words long.
Data Sources and Bibliography.
NB: The best reports will be original in the sense of: (i) what they are trying to measure and, (ii) what components – and the justification for these – that they are incorporating.