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Briefing No. 1 (revised): An integrated approach to wellbeing assessment

This revised and updated briefing paper introduces the approach to Wellbeing assessment being developed and applied by Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways in its three-year research project in Zambia and India.

Key elements of the approach are:

  • a multi-dimensional model of Wellbeing: Wellbeing is made up of seven domains that span material, relational and personal factors
  • a new concept of Inner Wellbeing: Subjective perspectives focus on ‘Inner Wellbeing’: what people feel and think they can do and be
  • an integrated, mixed method approach: Measures of how people are doing objectively complement Inner Wellbeing assessment.
  • qualitative data and reflection balance quantiative measures and analysis


  • Wellbeing is multi-faceted – it needs to be assessed acrossdifferent aspects of life. It is not well captured by a single indicator
  • measurement requires meaning – to interpret results, including changes over time, you need to know why people are scoring as they do. This means that qualitative work must accompany quantitative assessment.
  • context makes a difference – The concepts and methods used to assess Wellbeing, as well as the results they produce, are shaped by culture. This means that how you ask as well as what you ask about may need to be adapted for different local situations.
  • relationship is at the heart of Wellbeing – Wellbeing is not the property of an individual, it emerges in relationship. Assessment therefore needs to consider how people interact with each other and with their wider environment.
  • politics are central to Wellbeing – politics determine how Wellbeing is defined, whose Wellbeing matters and who is seen to be responsible. Attention to power and inequality is therefore a vital part of Wellbeing assessment

Please note this is an updated version of: An integrated model for assessing wellbeing: Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways briefing no. 1, 2011.