Professor Cal Muckley of UCD today launched a discussion paper showing why and how Ireland ought to lead the world in the development of a Social Progress Indicator. Prof Muckley, speaking to a diverse audience at the RDS that included representatives from the Departments of An Taoiseach and Finance, described Ireland’s “dire housing and health problems” and poor ranking in the perception of the quality of Government services here. He stated that “Despite its macro level achievements, the economic performance of the State has not found its way to those most in need”.
This, Professor Muckley, pointed out was in keeping with a global phenomenon where the fruits of economic expansion has been loaded in to top 1% of the population. He showed that Ireland’s inequality would be the highest in the EU if not for the redistributive effect of taxation and Government transfers which place Ireland nearer the norm for the OECD. He showed, in detail how the epoch of big data could be harnessed to collate hard data, live surveys and Artificial Intelligence into a consolidated Social Progress Indicator and how the sub components could provide policymakers with live and dynamic feedback to help better allocate State resources.
Partaking in a lively audience discussion Professor Muckley said that any current surveys could be integrated, provided they met the independent standards of data science set by an appropriate panel of data scientists who he envisaged would be tasked with scoping out a SPI for Ireland, commencing with a pilot study. The initiative will require champions for SPI across all relevant stakeholders most especially the Irish people for it to gain acceptance and momentum.
In concluding Prof Muckley said that “A grass root SPI for the Irish people and by the Irish people, can effectively enable, in a systemic and impactful way, the monitoring of the quality of Ireland’s state services. It is not prompted by the European Union nor is it part of any international commitment, it is rather Ireland taking a leadership role to address our clear problems. It is the voice of the Irish people measured scientifically and regularly and is very different to GDP. It complements national income statistics and should be reported alongside such statistics as a matter of course”
Prof Muckley’s discussion paper and slides as attached have today been circulated to 500 members of the Civil Service, Trade Unions, NGOs, Politicians and the Media to facilitate wider discussion.
21st February 2020