Composite indices of sustainable development: an Information Theory approach

Stapleton, Lee and Garrod, Guy (2007) Composite indices of sustainable development: an Information Theory approach. In: 3rd International Conference on Sustainability, 4-7 January 2007, Chennai, India.

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Abstract

Although a principal driving force behind the formulation of composite indices of sustainable development is to try and simplify the state of the world into a few key numbers (as opposed to having to refer to an array of simple non-aggregated indicators) do they really simplify or beget complexity? By definition, composite indices of sustainable development are further removed from reality compared to simple indicators because of, for example, 1) assumptions that the functional form used to combine different indicators is correct 2) assumptions that any weights used to prioritise different indicators within a given functional form are correct. This would appear to suggest that composite indices do introduce additional complexity which is not associated with simple indicators. Information Theory has been applied to problems in many fields over the last 50 years such as electrical engineering, linguistics and psychology. More recently it has been applied within the environmental sciences to determine, for example, whether more complex models of terrestrial nutrient flux are justified compared to simpler, nested alternatives (Stapleton et al., In Press). This work seeks to address whether and how Information Theory can be used to assess if the complexity of composite indices is justified, using the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index as an illustrative example.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Depositing User: Lee Stapleton
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 08:46
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2015 08:46
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55141
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