How Happy City developed the TPI

We’ve developed the Thriving Places Index to make progress towards our charitable mission to ‘make what matters count’. We create innovative and academically robust new measures to help shift the compass away from a focus purely on financial measurements like GDP. Read more about Happy City’s measurement and policy work here.

These measures paint a detailed picture of the many interconnected elements that influence our wellbeing, helping to focus policy, resources and action on the things that matter most to improving lives now and in the future.

The Happy City Index

The Thriving Places Index began life as a prototype measurement index developed by Happy City and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in collaboration with local, national and international experts and called the Happy City Index.

Between 2011-2014 we undertook widespread consultation and grassroots research into what was needed and what ‘mattered’ in local communities. This was followed in 2015 by the development of the framework, the criteria for indicator selection and the first full indicator set that forms the basis of the Thriving Places Index.

In 2016 we launched a pilot version of the Happy City Index and published data for the eight core English cities and London.

The Thriving Places Index 2017 onwards

In 2017 we developed the second version of the index and renamed it the Thriving Places Index, and to reflect the fact that it’s equally useful for other types of settlements both rural and urban. We produced an Index scorecard for 150 English local authorities. This built on the feedback and lessons from the 2016 pilot as well as incorporating the newest data, evidence and research.

In 2017 we also started work, in collaboration with The Gwent Public Service Board and Data Cymru, to produce Thriving Places Wales (TPW) in 2018. TPW uses the TPI framework, with an adapted indicator set to reflect some differences in the data availability in Wales.

This work builds on the strong political context for wellbeing in Wales, created by the ground-breaking ‘Future Generations Act’ - that enshrines the prioritisation of wellbeing for current and future generations in Wales into law.

Developments in 2019

This year, the Thriving Places Index has been significantly enhanced in both content and reach. In particular, we have strengthened the sustainability and equality domains to underline the vital importance of delivering the conditions for wellbeing in a way that challenges current power imbalances and recognises the rights of future generations.

Where new and relevant indicators of wellbeing have become available we have included them. And we’ve significantly expanded our reach - the 2019 TPI has produced scorecards for 351 English councils and 22 in Wales.

If you are interested in working with Happy City to use the TPI framework in your own national context, please get in touch at