Socio-Economic Indicators

Socio-Economic Sustainability Indicators: building tools for understanding community wellbeing

Project LeadBruno Wichmann, Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta (bwichmann@ualberta.ca)

Co-investigators:
Brenda Parlee, University of Alberta

Students:
Todd Godfrey, Masters candidate, University of Alberta (tgodfrey@ualberta.ca)
additional student TBD

Community Partners:
Bob Simpson, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

May 2016 to February 2018

Update 2017: Todd is finishing up his thesis work and expects to defend in August.

Update 2016: As part of the ReSDA workshop held in Ottawa on October 26-28, 2016, Todd Godfrey did a presentation on the research. You can view the powerpoint presentation or read the abstract provided (page 5) that summarizes the project.

Summary

The project is a collaboration between the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the University of Alberta. The project builds on a previous ReSDA project led by Andrey Petrov that result in a descriptive report on socio-economic impacts of development in the Inuvialuit region.  The proposed project, which was developed in collaboration with the IRC involves a more detailed analysis of social and economic data from existing databases and data sets to understand patterns and trends of economic sustainability in the Inuvialuit Region. As a second phase, the research team will work collaboratively with the IRC to develop additional indicators and data collection methodologies and tools relevant for community-based monitoring of well-being.  As a legacy of the project, the research team of Bruno Wichmann, Brenda Parlee and 2 graduate students (MSc1, MSc2) will be developing a tool to enable the IRC and local communities to analyse the data themselves and anticipate / predict how changes in different socio-economic variables (factors) influence other variables considered important to regional sustainability (e.g., education, health).

Purpose

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is a major partner of ReSDA. The project developed to address a research need priority they have related to the development and use of indicators for monitoring economic sustainability. Although focused on the Inuvialuit region only, the outcomes including the SEE-IT tool are anticipated to be of use to other regions. Specifically it relates to the theme of Sustainable Economies and Sustainable Regions.

Methods

2016 – 2017: Phase 1: During 2016, the research team will meet to scope the project with staff from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to develop key goals and objectives for the project (Completed – January) and develop a intellectual property rights agreement (Completed June) as well as identify available data sets (Completed – June). A graduate student (MSc in Resource Economics) was also recruited in 2016 to meet with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and to review the existing data sets. During the summer and fall of 2016, the student will work collaboratively with the IRC in Inuvik to i) develop capacity in the IRC office to access, use and archive data sets from the IRC, the Inuit Health Survey, the GNWT and the Aboriginal Peoples Survey. Ii) The student will work closely with staff and visit communities in the IRC region to develop a better understanding of key issues of sustainability and well-being that should drive the more detailed analysis. iii) The graduate student will develop descriptive summary of existing data on well-being and a plain language report for the IRC entitled “Sustainability and Well-being in the Inuvialuit Region”. To make our results more easily assessable, we will develop a Socio-Economic Estimates Interactive Tool (SEE-IT) that will enable the IRC Staff to track the impact of an indicator on others. For instance, increasing education levels may have an impact on income, which in turn may have an impact on years of life lost. The tool will allow the user to enter an education value (for instance, one that is expected to be induced by current education policies) and see the estimated spillovers of such policy on other indicators. We will build this tool with an Excel interface, but it could be easily transported to an online interactive tool fed by the estimates of the economic model. iv) The student will undertake a multivariate analysis to identify more complex patterns of change in sustainability and well-being in the region. v) The student will also produce a a summary report for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, 2 academic publications and an MSc thesis.

2017 – 2018: Phase 2: During phase 2, the research team will work with the IRC to develop additional indicators and a process for data collection that will building capacity for community-based monitoring of sustainability of well-being in the Inuvialuit region. Specifically, the project will involve the following steps: i) Conduct a secondary literature review of existing indicators/datasets as well as academic/grey literature related to the region that highlights different issues of sustainability and well-being. ii) Analyse existing literature to identify indicators on key issues of sustainability / well-being; iii) Conduct three focus groups in the Inuvialuit region to review/refine indicators and develop protocols and practices of community-based data collection; iv) develop a plain language report for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; and v) develop 2 academic publications and an MSc thesis.

Background on Available Data

Five data sets have been assessed with the aim of identifying relevant indicators and data for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Although regional aggregation of data is descriptively available, individual/household level data is less available and required additional permissions for use.  (1) Statistics Canada – The research team already has two datasets that can be used to estimate economic models of livelihoods. One dataset is formed by merging 4 editions (1991, 2001, 2006, and 2012) of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) implemented by Statistics Canada. The surveys were obtained from the University of Alberta Odesi Database (public use micro datafiles). The APS collected important information about the socio-economic status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. For instance, the 2012 edition contains information on approximately 24,000 respondents, with approximately 2,700 in the Inuit Nunangat area. The survey focuses on education, health and food security, employment, language, income, housing, and mobility. The second dataset is the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), also implemented by Statistics Canada and also obtained from the University of Alberta Odesi Database. This survey contains information on approximately 887,000 Canadian households, of which approximately 38,000 have Aboriginal identity, and 1,722 have Inuit single identity. The type of information collected by this survey is similar to that collected by the APS.  (2) Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Data- The research team is currently in the process of obtaining a third dataset, namely, the Family Economic Life Survey, collected by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. This dataset has information on approximately 500 households in the six communities of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. It focuses on activities like hunting and fishing, employment, household composition, income, cost of living, and harvesting equipment. We also plan to apply for access to the Statistics Canada Research Data Center at the University of Alberta to access the confidential analytical APS microdata. This would allow us to estimate statistical models specifically for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. (3) Government of the Northwest Territories – Additional community level data is being sought from the Government of the Northwest Territories. (4) Inuit Health Survey -  A data sharing agreement between the Circumpolar Health Office, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the University of Alberta for the Inuit Health Survey Data.

Anticipated Outcomes

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is a major partner of ReSDA. The project has been developed to address a research need priority they have related to the development and use of indicators for monitoring economic sustainability. Although focused on the Inuvialuit region only, the outcomes including the SEE-IT tool are anticipated to be of use to other regions.

Plain Language Summaries and SEE-IT Tool – the outcomes of the research will be communicated to the Inuvialuit communities through a plain language summary (i.e., newsletter), a 20-

Informal Academic Communications: We will present our results in Brown Bag workshops and Seminars at the University of Alberta, and also in Academic Conferences (e.g. Alberta Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meetings).

For more information contact:

Bruno Wichmann
Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB  T6G 2H1
Email: bwichmann@ualberta.ca