Quantifying human well-being for sustainability research and policy


July 17, 2015 - Author: , Madeleine C. McKinnon, and Will R. Turner

Journal or Book Title: Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

Keywords: Cambodia; composite index; poverty alleviation; structural equation modeling; sustainable development; vulnerability and resilience

Volume/Issue: 1(4): 16

Year Published: 2015

To address human dependence on natural resources and anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem
health, understanding and management of the linkages between nature and human well-being (HWB) are
urgently needed. One fundamental barrier is the lack of quantitative indicators and models that integrate
HWB with direct and indirect drivers of change in natural resources. While primary surveys provide the
most valid HWB measures, extensive new data collection is often costly, especially for large-scale studies.
Therefore, it is vital to develop methods and indices based on existing data (e.g., census data, survey data) for real-world application. To address this, we propose a new method of using structural equation modeling to
construct robust, spatially explicit HWB indices from existing data and demonstrate its validity and
usefulness in Cambodia. Our method is scale-free and applicable to different frameworks and data sources
and thus supports relatively easy replication in many other contexts. Further application and refinement
could improve understanding of human–nature interactions, move toward robust theory development, and
guide natural resource management decisions.

DOI: 10.1890/EHS15-0004.1

Type of Publication: Journal Article


Tags: cambodia, composite index, poverty alleviation, structural equation modeling, sustainable development, vulnerability and resilience


Wu Yang

Wu Yang

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Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

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