On the methodological framework of composite indices: a review of the issues of weighting, aggregation, and robustness

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Abstract

In recent times, composite indicators have gained astounding popularity in a wide variety of research areas. Their adoption by global institutions has further captured the attention of the media and policymakers around the globe, and their number of applications has surged ever since. This increase in their popularity has solicited a plethora of methodological contributions in response to the substantial criticism surrounding their underlying framework. In this paper, we put composite indicators under the spotlight, examining the wide variety of methodological approaches in existence. In this way, we offer a more recent outlook on the advances made in this field over the past years. Despite the large sequence of steps required in the construction of composite indicators, we focus particularly on two of them, namely weighting and aggregation. We find that these are where the paramount criticism appears and where a promising future lies. Finally, we review the last step of the robustness analysis that follows their construction, to which less attention has been paid despite its importance. Overall, this study aims to provide both academics and practitioners in the field of composite indices with a synopsis of the choices available alongside their recent advances.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement
Early online date17 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 17 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • composite indicators
  • weighting
  • aggregation
  • robustness

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