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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.

SocialFunds.com -- 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 lives."

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.

Research 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 societal conditions.

"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.

The 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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