This is a composite measure of wellbeing constructed from 9 variables from the Clio-Infra projected prsented in the How was life report. Newer version forthcoming


Auke Rijpma

Production date

December 2014


Composite measure of wellbeing


Composite measure, wellbeing

Time period

1820-2010 (decennial, usually referring to xxx0 years, sometimes the decennial average: see How was life)

Geographical coverage


Methodologies used for data collection and processing

The composite measure is a linear combination of the 9 variables created through a latent variable model. In the Bayesian implementation of the latent variable model, missing data is handled by the model. This provides estimates even for countries for which there is very little information. The uncertainty of these estimates is reflected in the confidence intervals, but be careful not to over-interpret the mean or median values for these countries

Period of collection

2013 - 4

Data collectors

Auke Rijpma, Clio-Infra team

Depends on the underlying data; beyond that the quality should be reflected in the confidence intervals. Note that the assumptions of the latent variable model should also hold. See the background paper (Rijpma 2016) as well as the material this measure was based on (esp. Jackman 2009 and Høyland et al. 2012). Høyland, Bjørn, Karl Moene, and Fredrik Willumsen. 2012. "The Tyranny of International Index Rankings." Journal of Development Economics 97 (1): 1 - 14. doi:10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.01.007. Jackman, Simon. 2009. Bayesian Analysis for the Social Sciences. Wiley Series in Probability and Statistics. Chichester: Wiley. Rijpma, Auke. 2016. "What Can't Money Buy? Wellbeing and GDP since 1820." Working Paper 78. Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History. https://ideas.repec.org/p/ucg/wpaper/0078.html

General references

See original Clio-Infra variables.


Anguilla[No Data]

Antigua and Barbuda1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Aruba[No Data]

Bahamas1500 (5)-2013 (23)

Barbados1500 (5)-2016 (28)

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba[No Data]

British Virgin Islands[No Data]

Cayman Islands[No Data]

Cuba1500 (8)-2016 (35)

Curaçao[No Data]

Dominica1500 (5)-2016 (21)

Dominican Republic1500 (6)-2018 (38)

Grenada1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Guadeloupe[No Data]

Haiti1500 (6)-2018 (36)

Jamaica1500 (6)-2018 (35)

Martinique[No Data]

Montserrat[No Data]

In 2010, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a subsidy to the Clio Infra project, of which Jan Luiten van Zanden was the main applicant and which is hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Clio Infra has set up a number of interconnected databases containing worldwide data on social, economic, and institutional indicators for the past five centuries, with special attention to the past 200 years. These indicators allow research into long-term development of worldwide economic growth and inequality.

Global inequality is one of the key problems of the contemporary world. Some countries have (recently) become wealthy, other countries have remained poor. New theoretical developments in economics - such as new institutional economics, new economic geography, and new growth theory - and the rise of global economic and social history require such processes to be studied on a worldwide scale. Clio Infra provides datasets for the most important indicators. Economic and social historians from around the world have been working together in thematic collaboratories, in order to collect and share their knowledge concerning the relevant indicators of economic performance and its causes. The collected data have been standardized, harmonized, and stored for future use. New indicators to study inequality have been developed. The datasets are accessible through the Clio Infra portal which also offers possibilities for visualization of the data. Clio Infra offers the opportunity to greatly enhance our understanding of the origins, causes and character of the process of global inequality.