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EURODATA Newsletter No.2, p.21-23

European Social Indicators

by Franz Rothenbacher

This introduces a new section within EURODATA Newsletter. In each issue from now on a table named „European Social Indicators“ will give a selection of social indicators for the countries of Western Europe in a cross-sectional perspective.

Data are presented for the most recent available year, that is in most cases for 1992. A complete list of social indicators will be presented in each autumn edition of this newsletter. The spring edition will publish an extended list of social indicators on special topics as for instance the labour market, the working environment, demography, household and family, housing conditions, education, or social policy indicators, as for example indicators on family policy. The indicators presented generally relate to annual data and not to quarterly or monthly data.

I would like to mention that this section on European social indicators has very much been inspired by the social indicators lists of various journals on living conditions: first of all Canadian Social Trends, which presents a list of social indicators for nine living domains and a special table on annual labour force estimates on the last pages of the journal in each issue. Some forty indicators are presented. They embrace the living domains population, family, labour force, income, education, health, justice, government, and economy. Furthermore, the Swedish Välfärds Bulletinen (Welfare Bulletin), which occasionally publishes specific social indicators as part of their articles.

The Norwegian Samfunnspeilet. Tidskrift om levekår og livsstil (Mirror of society. Journal on living conditions and life-style) presents in its section „Sosiale indikatorer fra SSB“ graphs of social indicators with ten-year time series. They include the domains population, health, education, labour, income and consumption, social care, culture, housing and environment and criminality. Thirty indicators are covered.

The quarterly Finnish journal Hyvinvointi Katsaus (Bulletin on well-being) publishes a table on time series social indicators for eight living domains and all in all 38 indicators in the first number of each year. The living domains are: population and families, labour force, income and wages, consumption, health, justice, environment, general economic indices.

This section on social indicators is in some respect experimental. Individual indicators may change as data availability and improvements in social measurements will be achieved. New living domains may be added or existing ones be extended by additional indicators. Policy indicators could be included in order to quantify the input side, too. And additional countries could be added, especially those of east and south-east Europe. Another topic for the future could be the clustering of countries, and calculating indices of central tendency and dispersion.

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