18 May 2013

Think: meaningful outcomes

In our large and complex societies policymakers are, inevitably, using numerical indicators in an effort to target well-being. But these indicators are often deeply flawed. My previous post pointed out some of the flaws in the use of GDP per capita as a measure of social well-being. But there is also a proliferation of useless micro-targets, as this excerpt from the UK's Daily Mail makes clear: 

How offences can vanish 

High-profile and politically sensitive crimes, such as robbery and burglary, are reclassified. For example, a robbery may be transformed into ‘other theft’ or a burglary called criminal damage. Shockingly [sic], some offences are recorded as ‘no crime’ because there is no direct evidence. A mobile phone owner may not be able to prove it was stolen so it is written down as ‘lost’. Frontline police representatives suspect many victims do not bother to report crimes because their local police station is closed. Others no longer insure household goods and therefore do not report losses. Daily Mail, 16 May
A Social Policy Bond regime would require us to be clear about what we actually want to achieve. We would formulate policy in terms of meaningful, verifiable outcomes, rather than vague, vapid sentiment, or, as in this example, targets that can easily be gamed or manipulated. This would be inherent in the way the bond regime operates. The benefits of expressing policy goals in such terms would be equally clear: more transparency, stability, efficiency, public participation and, therefore, public buy-in.

No comments: