June 26th, 2018

Hawai‘i Communities’ Governance Well Being

As was communicated previously, the Hawai‘i Well-Being Project is a team effort to fit together a set of reliable, continuing data to address policy-relevant strengths and liabilities in Hawai‘i. It is part of an ongoing effort to improve the well being of Hawai‘i’s communities and residents. We learn about the well being of a community in two ways: by asking individuals about their subjective experience and by looking at objective indicators. For example, the measure of safety and security is a combination of residents’ perception of safety in their community as well as the actual number of crimes within their community as reported by the Counties.

A variety of national organizations have provided “happiness” or “well-being” scores for the State of Hawai‘i in the past. These have been based on national studies with a relatively small base of local resident data. The Hawai‘i Well-Being Project was designed by local experts to identify local issues, validated through interviews with a large number of residents. The data presented represents the 2017 results. The study continues to be administered in 2018.

To fully understand residents’ well-being, the SMS Hawai‘i Well-Being Study measures well-being in each of following domains:

  • Economic
  • Health
  • Governance
  • Safety and Security
  • Social Capital
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Overall Well-Being Score by Community

This is our third installment – the governance scores by community.

The governance scores quantify the level of trust in the government, involvement in the community, satisfaction with government services of residents of a community. Attached as Appendix A you can review the governance questions.

The following charts summarize the governance scores for 53 communities across the State. The score is the statistically weighted mean of responses to survey questions and several public domain economic data.

Each chart has two frames – the score and an index. The index is a measurement of the variance of the specific community’s mean score versus the mean score for the specific County. As an example, Hilo’s community health score is 5 percent above the Island of Hawai‘i’s health mean score. As was requested by some of the recipients, we split the O‘ahu data into two charts for easier review.


The Hawai‘i Well-Being Study can be used to guide policy development and can be a valuable tool for Hawai‘i communities. The community-level data and well-being model makes it possible for communities to better understand the domains and factors influencing their residents. Over time, using this tool, specific domains/factors can be identified as needing to be strengthened to improve overall community well being. As programs are implemented, key metrics can track community-level changes, programs improved, and over time, higher levels of well being achieved.

In the next few weeks we will share information that will explain the well-being scores for the 53 communities we measured by the other domains listed. The results presented above are based on a random sample of 3,199 Hawai‘i residents, 18 years or older, providing a margin of error of +/-1.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level at the State level, individual community level data will have a higher margin of error due to smaller sample size which will improve as further iterations of the study are conducted.

For more information on how you can participate in the 2018 SMS Well-Being Study please contact Hersh Singer by filling out our contact form.


Appendix A: Governance Questions

Are you currently registered to vote?

Of all the elections that have been held since your 18th birthday, in how many did you vote?

Think about the public services available in your community. Do you think that the LEVEL of public services available to members of your community is: (Too little; About right; Too much; DK; Ref)

Do you think that the QUALITY of public services available to members of your community is: (Excellent; Good; Fair; Poor; DK; Ref)

How much do you trust your local government?

How much do you trust the people who represent you in local government?

How much do you trust the police force in your community?

Would you say that your County government is: (Completely honest; Mostly honest; Partly honest and partly corrupt; Mostly corrupt; Totally corrupt; DK; Ref)

Would you say that your State government is: (Completely honest; Mostly honest; Partly honest and partly corrupt; Mostly corrupt; Totally corrupt; DK; Ref)

Do you agree or disagree that our lawmakers carefully think about the laws and policies they write? (Strongly or Somewhat)

Do you agree or disagree that our laws and policies are effective in solving the problems that they were intended to address? (Strongly or Somewhat)

Do you agree or disagree that our laws and policies are carefully evaluated and changed as necessary? (Strongly or Somewhat)

In the past five years, how many times have you attended a public meeting about government, public improvements, or other issues in your community?

In the past five years, how many times have you contacted a government official by phone, mail, email, or personal visit to discuss an issue in your community?

In the past five years, how many times have you submitted public testimony in person or in writing regarding an issue in your community?

Client Testimonials

SMS did a great job in leading Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s evaluation development process…including identifying input, output and outcome measures to track progress toward HTA’s strategic goals. SMS also provided steps to guide us in integrating the evaluation process into our overall operations and planning. Our staff was actively engaged in the process and tracking the measures will ensure a focus on driving towards outcomes.

— Leslie Dance, former VP Marketing
Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

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