National Systems Mapping of Well-being

Well-being as the highest policy priority of any nation: a systems analysis. 

Well-being, happiness, quality of life or life satisfaction are the ultimate goals of any human, regardless of status, profession, wealth, religion, or nationality. So far, however, there is no "policy" for happiness in any country; rather, well-being is an emerging property of the national economic and social systems. The question then becomes: How can policymakers leverage the national subsystems and their interactions to increase well-being of all? The answer to this question is surely not simple, but one where systems analysis is a suitable methodology. ASA researchers explore this issue at ASA in partnership with relevant institutions. 

© Longquattro |

© Longquattro |

Measuring well-being has become a major theme in public policy and governance in recent years, as researchers and policy makers attempt to unpack what exactly constitutes a "good life".  Several projects such as the OECD’s "Better Life" initiative have improved our ability to systematically access the otherwise vague concept of well-being, to compare between different countries and to assess the distribution of well-being outcomes across the population. However, well-being measures give us only part of the picture.  

Also, current attempts to map and analyze sets of national systems fall short of filling this gap. They are often directed at assessing the vulnerability of what is named "vital systems" with the aim to ensure their continued functioning in case of catastrophic disruption and to increase their resilience to different risks. This state of affairs creates two separate bodies of knowledge: the first measures quality of life addressing the systems that produce them, while the second performs systems analysis that is risk oriented and therefore bounded in its scope and purpose.  

In filling this gap, ASA researchers and their partners aim to develop a comprehensive model that will describe the full set of national systems that are key for producing and sustaining well-being at large. The model will map the systems, their components, their interrelations and their potential risk factors, grouped under the OECD Better Life framework’s "Resources for future well-being" through preserving natural, economic, human and social capital. Ultimately, the project will produce a National Systems Map, which is intended, first and foremost, for policy-makers and researchers, yet can also appeal to the general public.

Print this page

Last edited: 31 August 2018


Elena Rovenskaya

Program Director and Principal Research Scholar Advancing Systems Analysis Program


Sibel Eker

Research Scholar Sustainable Service Systems Research Group - Energy, Climate, and Environment Program


Leena Ilmola-Sheppard

Guest Emeritus Research Scholar Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program


Katya Perez Guzman

Researcher Strategic Initiatives Program



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313