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Allister McGregor
Dr Allister McGregor, Director of the ESRC WeD research group

Internal News - 21 February 2008

Wellbeing is a key challenge for 21st century international development

A key challenge for international development in the 21st century is to promote the achievement of wellbeing for all, say University of Bath researchers speaking at a briefing seminar at the Palace of Westminster today.

The failure of wellbeing can be seen in developing countries around the world, where people suffer from chronic hunger, high infant mortality rates or social exclusion. Conflicts also arise when people have different views of what ‘wellbeing’ is and have different abilities to achieve it.

Understanding what wellbeing means to different people and how they seek to achieve it is key to a better understanding of why poverty persists, and how to develop more effective anti-poverty programmes, which can lead to a better quality of life.

Understanding wellbeing helps us to address the question: “How are we to live together in our neighbourhoods, nation states, and in the global community?”

This small word has such importance for individuals and communities across the globe that, in 2002, the Economic & Social Research Council announced funding for a programme on Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD).

The program, based at the University of Bath, has been researching the issues surrounding wellbeing and developing strategies to understand and enhance wellbeing in developing countries.

The four topics covered at the seminar, which is chaired by John Battle MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development, and adressed by Dr Allister McGregor, Director of the WeD Research Group, are:


The ESRC’s WeD programme is a multidisciplinary research group dedicated to the study of poverty, inequality and the quality of life in developing countries. The research group, based at the University of Bath, draws on an extensive network of overseas contacts and partnerships with institutes in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Thailand. The aim of the research programme was to gain a greater understanding of what wellbeing means to people, and to compare how different people in different social and cultural contexts struggle for wellbeing. The definition of wellbeing arrived at by WeD is: “wellbeing is a state of being with others, where human needs are met, where one can act meaningfully to pursue one’s goals, and where one enjoys a satisfactory quality of life.”