The public release of Tracking the Trends yesterday brought up an interesting point. How does Edmonton's social health compare to growth in the economy? Good question.
According to the 25 key indicators in the ESPC Social Health Index, in 2010 Edmonton's social health improved by 17.7% from the base year of 1995. This sounds impressive at first blush but a couple of things need to be kept in mind.
First, the ESPC uses a rolling 15 year period to calculate the index and 1995 happened to be at or near the bottom of the last recession. So the improvement in the index is in part attributable to starting from a low base year.
Second, a 17.7% improvement is an improvement of 1.2% per year. That is less than half the 2.5% growth per year in provincial GDP over the same time period. So Edmonton's social health only increased at a rate less than half that of the overall economy.
The lesson here is that good sense and perspective is needed when Tracking the Trends. A number that may appear at first blush to be quite impressive can on closer inspection be less so.