WHOSE VALUES AND PREFERENCES ARE REFLECTED IN MAP?
Any overall assessment about whether life is getting better is unavoidably based on values and preferences. However, MAP is presented in such a way that the reader is encouraged to draw on their own values when assessing progress. This is because everyone has a different viewpoint. For example, faced with statistics revealing that life expectancy has lengthened during the past decade, average income has risen and more land has been degraded by salinity, one reader may judge there has been progress and another that there has been regress.
Even if all or most Australians valued different aspects of life in much the same way, it would be difficult to summarise the various changes that have occurred over the last decade into a single statement about progress.
For these reasons, MAP presents a range of progress indicators. These are selected because they provide a succinct summary of social, economic and environmental progress, and are carefully chosen in consultation with experts from the very extensive array of statistical measures available in Australia. They have been selected because they encapsulate a range of complex issues in a given area of interest. In particular, the headline indicators are chosen because they inform on pivotal aspects of progress over time.
Choices of this kind must be made otherwise the ABS would simply point readers to their full array of statistical data and invite them to make their own selection of evidence and priorities. Such a course may be suitable for experts, but would be unhelpful to most people.
However, these choices are more strongly driven by considering whether the statistics are unambiguously positive or negative. That is, whether the indicator is moving clearly in a 'positive' direction (signalling progress), clearly in a 'negative' direction (signalling regress) or there is no significant movement. In particular, these statistics were chosen on the basis that most Australians would agree that the change they show can be unambiguously associated with progress or regress.
For more information on the consultation process undertaken in developing MAP see What process was undertaken in developing MAP? and for information on the selection criteria used when selecting progress indicators see the section on What is a progress indicator?, in particular, What makes a good progress indicator?
Whether a reader agrees with the ABS choice of headline indicators or not, he or she is free to peruse the whole suite of 12 headline and 71 supplementary indicators in MAP and to assign high weight, low weight or no weight to each, as his or her own values and preferences dictate.
Visit our blog to provide feedback on the indicators
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