The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a human well-being index (HWBI) that assesses the over-all well-being of its population at the county level. The HWBI contains eight domains representing social, economic and environmental well-being. These domains include 25 indicators comprised of 80 metrics and 22 social, economic and environmental services. The application of the HWBI has been made for the nation as a whole at the county level and two alternative applications have been made to represent key populations within the overall US population—Native Americans and children. A number of advances have been made to estimate the values of metrics for counties where no data is available and one such estimator—MERLIN—is discussed. Finally, efforts to make the index into an interactive web site are described.
Part of the book: Quality of Life and Quality of Working Life
Natural ecosystems provide services to humans that make life possible. Life, as well as the economy, is dependent upon these ecosystem goods and services (EGS). These services also contribute to a “good” or “quality life” by influencing the well-being of individuals and communities. Understanding the relationships among EGS that contribute to and shape well-being is an important task for researchers, decision makers and policy makers. In the past, these relationships were almost completely dependent upon income and consumption of goods. Today, the relationships are based on a more holistic perception including environmental and social attributes. The importance of ecosystem services to community well-being and their interactions are described through examples of communities’ perceptions of the importance of various attributes of well-being and the role of ecosystem services in defining public health.
Part of the book: Ecosystem Services and Global Ecology