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Measuring the incidence of welfare problems : an exploratory examination of provincial social welfare statistics, British Columbia, 1951-1959. Koch, Wolfram Johannes

Abstract

"Social Welfare" is of great, and growing, importance in the modern world, and it constantly demands definition. Statistical resources are needed (a) as aids in the definition of welfare problems, (b) to determine the nature and distribution of welfare needs, and (c) for evaluating the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing welfare services and planning the development of new services. As a background, the main types and sources of welfare measurements are reviewed in the light of the increasing volume of studies In Great Britain, the United States and Canada during the present century. To focus on the problem of adequate provincial statistics, an exploratory examination is made of two major groups of data: (a) demographic data from the Census and related sources; (b) the current standard measurements of the recipients of provincial public welfare services, abstracted from the annual reports of the Department of Social Welfare of the Province of British Columbia. The first group includes population trends, age-composition and family formation. The second group gives particular attention to the "categorical assistance programmes", the aged, social allowances, and provincial family services. There is now available a larger body of socio-economic data than ever before, but it is not being fully utilized for welfare interpretation or social service planning. A serious barrier to intensive analysis on a provincial basis is the lack of standardization of a set of regions covering the total geographical area, (as between Departmental Regions, administrative units and census districts). Variations In reporting procedure and insufficient development of socio-economic data and of components or causal factors in dependency are the greatest weaknesses in existing materials. Other areas of welfare in which new measurements as well as the co-ordination or modification of existing data are needed, are only briefly indicated in the present study. "Welfare", today, is more important than ever, and so is welfare research that provides the base for the improvement of existing services and creation of new ones, through broad, statistical measurements as well as special counts and studies.

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