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Our Approach to Wellbeing

Wellbeing is experienced when people have what they need for life to be good. As what is seen to make life good differs by time and place, our model provides a common framework that is built on theory but able to accommodate local understandings and priorities.


Inner Wellbeing is derived through seven key areas of life - what we call domains:

  • sufficiency in economic resources
  • scope to participate and take effective action
  • positive social connections
  • quality close relationships
  • mental and physical wellness
  • competence and self-worth
  • a sense of deeper meaning, order or purpose

Wellbeing is a process that emerges through interaction between the different domains, between different people, and between people and the broader environment that enables and constrains wellbeing.


Wellbeing is made up of both subjective and objective dimensions, but just contrasting these doesn't work. In fact there are many different levels, or layers, that can be assessed. These layers cut across the seven domains of wellbeing.

  • Layer 1: Objective environment: What resources are available in the local environment?
  • Layer 2: Subjective environment: What do people think of these resources?
  • Layer 3: Objective personal: What resources do the respondents have?
  • Layer 4: Subjective personal: What do the respondents think of the resources they have?
  • Layer 5: Inner Wellbeing: What do the respondents think or feel they are able to do or be?

These layers are important to bear in mind when designing a wellbeing assessment, though it is never possible to consider all dimensions or all domains.

More about our approach to wellbeing assessment and examples of how it can be applied are set out in Briefing No. 1: An Integrated Approach to Assessing Wellbeing

For more on the debate about the meaning of wellbeing and its usefulness, see the Why Wellbeing section of this website.