Cultural/Social Indicators
  • Number of runaway children
  • Number of reported abuse cases
  • Families with satisfactory child care arrangements
  • Families with adequate income

Talking Points
  • Traditional social indicators look at specific problems
  • Traditional indicators are necessary but not sufficient
  • Sustainability indicators show links to economy and environment

Here are four social indicators. Again, the top two are traditional indicators, the second two are sustainable community indicators.

Runaways and child abuse are clearly issues that need to be addressed in a society. However, those measures do not show the links between these social issues and economic issues. Measuring the number of families who have satisfactory child care arrangements or the number of families who have an adequate income are measures that connect the social and economic parts of a community.

What indicators can you suggest that help to measure cultural or social aspects of a sustainable community? Additional examples of traditional and better social indicators can be found on the Social indicators page of Maureen Hart's Indicators of Sustainability web site.

(Note to instructor: Rather than just telling participants what makes the second two indicators better than the first two, engage participants by asking them to explain the differences among these indicators. Make the discussion interactive by asking participants for their ideas for good indicators in these areas. Have the facilitator or helper write down the indicators that participants suggest. For each one, ask the participant what the links are with the various categories of issues.)
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