Kelly Claborn's Graduate Defense Seminar
Kelly Claborn, MS in Environmental Social Sciences, will present Measuring the Environmental Efficiency of Well-Being in Columbus, Ohio for her Graduate Defense Seminar in 333 Kottman Hall.
Scholars and policymakers have become increasingly interested in how to conceptualize and measure well-being. This interest is important for understanding how to improve the human condition without degrading environmental systems upon which well-being ultimately depends – a central question for sustainability. Therefore, it is crucial to explore what kinds of lifestyles and consumption patterns produce high well-being with relatively low environmental impacts. My study addresses this question at the household-level.
Following a call for the development and use of context-specific metrics when measuring well-being, I developed a metric for Columbus, Ohio that is based on insights from the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA). The metric is based on feedback from residents about what is important for a fulfilling life and how they rank the various components of well-being.
I distributed a structured survey in two Columbus neighborhoods to measure baseline well-being, identify factors that explain variation in well-being, and measure individual ecological footprints. To examine the relationship between well-being and environmental impacts, I calculated the environmental efficiency of well-being (EWEB) for each respondent and investigate household-level factors that allow some individuals to generate relatively high levels of well-being with low environmental impacts.
The findings indicate that absolute and relative wealth are significantly associated with higher well-being and EWEB; but their effects are diminished for the psychological components of well-being. Identifying with one’s neighborhood is a strong predictor of both well-being and EWEB although the strength of this relationship depends on one’s neighborhood of residence. I call for future research into this neighborhood-level relationship to enhance the growing literature on the interplay between well-being, environmental impacts, and neighborhood conditions and social dynamics.