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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Kelly Claborn's Graduate Defense Seminar

Jun 23, 2016, 10:00am - 11:00am
333 Kottman Hall

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.