Measuring Subjective Environmental Wellbeing in Puget Sound

A survey

Tyler Scott, Ryan Scott
Puget Sound Institute
Project Period: 
January 2014-December 2015

In this paper, we present pilot results for 13 proposed vital sign indicators and demonstrate the use of Google Consumer Insights Surveys in combination with multivariate analysis as a method of monitoring human wellbeing over time. Using results from 4,418 respondents to an online survey conducted in June of 2014, we describe the relationship between overall life satisfaction (a standard global measure for subjective wellbeing) and each indicator; estimate the status of each indicator across age, income, gender, and geographic subregion of the Puget Sound; and identify the dominant groupings of indicators. 

We found that individually, eleven of the thirteen indicators have a small but positive correlation to overall life satisfaction.  More importantly, however, we found that many of the indicators correlated to other indicators, resulting in factor groupings of human wellbeing predictors (Box 1).  These groupings largely represent the recommended Vital Signs to the Puget Sound Partnership and demonstrate that there is internal reliability among the indicators in each group: if one of the indicators within a factor measures highly, the other(s) will too.

Males scorec significantly higher on Sense of Place, Outdoor Activities, and Good Governance factors.  Rural populations had significantly more natural resource access than suburban and urban populations.  And older adults (45-54) reported significantly lower sense of place, higher natural resource access, and lower trust in governance.  Participation in cultural activities was highest for younger (18-24) and older (45-54) populations.       

Lastly, four of the six factors significantly predicted overall life satisfaction: Cultural Activities, Good Governance, Sense of Place, and Outdoor Activities. 




Topic Area: 
Funding source: 
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Research area: 
Environmental governance: policy & institutions
Human behaviors
Human wellbeing