The “Good Life Index”

800px-NebraskaWhat is “The Good Life”? We Nebraskans love to talk about it, but I don’t often hear people define it. Think about it for a minute – what does “The Good Life” mean to you?

This term means different things to different people, but generally, it refers to a high quality of life that involves healthy people, safe communities, and opportunities to build a better future. It encompasses objective measures, like good water quality, and subjective measures, like the feeling of community brought about by neighborhood potlucks and t-ball games.

Because many of us have an emotional response to the idea of “The Good Life” it’s easy to forget that quality of life can be measured an analyzed.

Why does it matter? Can’t we just sit on the front porch with our Grandfathers drinking lemonade and talking about the “The Good Life”?

I think such analysis matters because it helps us to build equality and opportunity for all Nebraskans by assessing where we are doing well for children, families, and communities, and where we have room to grow. From an economic perspective, it matters because many companies take into consideration quality of living scores in deciding where to locate. In other words, social indicators do play a role in our state’s economic development. I also think it is important to think about in order to make good choices about state investments.

One such assessment here in Nebraska is the annual “Kid’s Count” report, put out annually by our friends at Voices for Children, which analyzes our progress on child well being.  Another assessment is Mercer’s Global Quality of Living survey, which is released annually, and compares 215 cities based on 39 criteria, including safety, education, and public transportation.

In working to fulfill the Appleseed mission, increasing opportunity for education, assuring that families have their basic needs like food and health care met, and protecting people’s rights to build a better life for themselves, I like to think that we’re working to improve our state’s score on “The Good Life Index.”

If you were putting together “The Good Life Index” what would you measure? How do you think our state would score? And what measure would you address first to improve our ranking?

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