Many studies have explored the relationships between social development – social norms and practice, social trust, community engagement – and other development outcomes. But there have been few empirical studies that tests these relationships at the international level. This is largely due to data limitations: few reliable, globally-representative data sources exist that can provide a basis for cross-country comparison.
The Institute of Social Studies (ISS) now hosts a large database of social development indicators compiled from a wide range of sources in a first attempt to overcome such data constraint. The Indices of Social Development (ISD) are based on over 200 measures from 25 reputable data sources for the years 1990 to 2010. These measures are aggregated into five composite indices: civic activism, interpersonal safety and trust, inter-group cohesion, clubs and associations, and gender equity/equality and non-discrimination against women.
In Working Paper No 3 for this project, we presents this database, highlight the differences, similarities and complementarities with other measures of well-being, including around income poverty, multi-dimensional poverty, and human development. The paper illustrates the potential of this database in tracking social development trends, as well as their correlations with economic and political indicators. Do have a look at http://www.indsocdev.org/resources.html, and I look forward to hear what you think.