September 12, 2000
Calvert Publication Offers Broader View of Social Trends
Quality of Life Indicators measure national "well-being," the backdrop for many of the issues
addressed by social investors.
According to traditional economic indicators, the U.S. is in the midst of one of the most dramatic
periods of economic growth in history. But many concerned citizens, including social investors,
would agree that this is only part of the story. A recent publication by Calvert Group attempts to
give an unbiased analysis of the other part.
The result of a five-year project,
"Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators" is a set of new tools devised to measure
environmental and societal trends in the U.S. missed by traditional indicators. Published by
Calvert Group, a leading provider of socially responsible investment products with more than $6.5
billion in assets, the book represents the first comprehensive analysis of national quality of life
by an asset manager.
"All over the country, citizens are demonstrating a desire to engage
in serious discussions about how to measure quality of life and livable communities," said Barbara
Krumsiek, President and CEO of Calvert Group. "We hope this volume will empower people from all
walks of life to measure progress in areas that matter to them and take action to improve their
Conceptualized by Hazel Henderson, futurist and author of "Building a Win-Win
World" and other books, the tool identifies trends in 12 areas of the U.S. economy, including
education, employment, environment, health, human rights, public safety, and others. While it
approaches many of the issues raised by social investors, rather than focusing on the impact of
corporations it takes a much broader view of social and environmental parameters.
for the volume was guided by Henderson, Jon Lickerman, Calvert's Director of Social Investment
Research, and economist Patrice Flynn, with twelve other renowned experts in their field
contributed chapters on the specific indicators. This multi-disciplinary group of scholars and
practitioners found common ground in the need for more practical and sophisticated means to measure
"Our goal was to systematically measure and explain key aspects of
quality of life," explained Hazel Henderson. "This study outlines statistical data trends. We
hope it is an invaluable resource for citizens, businesses, and local officials engaged in debates
about quality of life."
The "Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators offers a wealth of
information, from national statistics to clear descriptions of the interrelationship between
economic, social, and environmental factors. The volume provides a valuable reference for
comprehensive coverage of complex issues, such as the cost of rising energy intensity, prisoner
labor, and income disparity.
Among the startling trends outlined in the chapter on public
safety, the firearms industry and gun advocates have lobbied effectively for few societal controls
on handgun design, despite handguns becoming a leading cause of death. In fact, there are more
stringent U.S. design standards for toy guns than for real ones.
In the area of
environment, nearly 25 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, 40 percent of our surveyed
bodies of water remain too polluted for fishing or swimming. As of 1997, 20 percent of Americans
(53.6 million people) were living in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
Indicators represent a powerful educational tool, communicating Calvert's outstanding expertise in
the area of social research, but intentionally avoiding any policy recommendations. Calvert's
objectives in producing the volume were to broaden the national debate about our quality of life
and clarify the impact of the multiple choices we make in our work, leisure activities, civic
commitments, and, yes, investments.
"Something that is rarely asked in the socially
responsible investing field, and I think is very important, is what's the larger societal context
for evaluating companies?" said Calvert's Jon Lickerman, co-editor of the book. "We believe that if
we're going to analyze individual companies, we need to start figuring out that larger context."
Calvert has distributed copies of "Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators" to
policymakers, business leaders, and investors to encourage them to work together toward pragmatic
solutions to our most difficult domestic problems. In addition to measuring social trends, the book
is a measure of Calvert's commitment to the broader social issues behind social investing.
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