Between individuals, levels of wellbeing vary in line with economic status. But beyond individuals it is politics and policies that make the major difference.
These are key messages emerging from recent research on wellbeing and poverty in India by the Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways project.
The report provides preliminary evidence from a first round of fieldwork in rural Chhattisgarh which has developed and applied a new, multi-dimensional model of wellbeing.
Key conclusions include:
- These are extremely poor communities where positive change is occurring. Critical to this is the provision of welfare programmes by the state, complemented by political mobilization by local NGOs to ensure that people achieve the rights they are promised.
- People's objective economic status has the greatest effect on levels of wellbeing and is inter-related with other factors like gender/marital status, community and place of residence.
- However, the multi-dimensional approach to wellbeing provides a far broader understanding of how different kinds of people are doing in different aspects of their lives than is shown by economic status alone.
- And focusing on individuals only tells part of the story – the environment which enables or constrains wellbeing is set by policies and politics.
The report outlines the Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways research, the model of wellbeing developed and methods used. The communities where research in India is being conducted are described and findings on their objective wellbeing are presented. The report then presents statistical evidence on their subjective reflections and inner wellbeing and how these vary by different mediating factors.
White, S.C.; Gaines, S.O.; Jha, S.; Marshall, N. Wellbeing Pathways Report: India Round 1. University of Bath, Bath, UK (2012) 62 pp.