Researchers have been using metrics of social and economic well-being for some time as a tool to understand and compare communities from a distance, an approach that remains a key strategy for regional studies. I was fortunate to receive training in the use of public datasets to track economic and social well-being from Ray Rasker and his team at Headwaters Economics.
Recent publications in this space include:
Haggerty, Julia, Gude, Patricia H., Delorey, Mark, Rasker, Ray. 2014. Long-term effects of income specialization in oil and gas extraction: the U.S. West,1980–2011, Energy Economics (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.eneco.2014.06.020.
In addition, I am interested in creative ways to conceptualize, measure and monitor community resilience. A current manuscript that discusses this is:
Haggerty, Julia and Keegan McBride. Does local monitoring empower fracking host communities? An institutional history from the gas fields of Wyoming. Submitted, available by request.