How's Life?
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How's Life?

Measuring Well-being

Every person aspires to a good life. But what does "a good or a better life" mean? This report looks at the most important aspects that shape people’s lives and well-being: income, jobs, housing, health, work and life-balance, education, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment, personal security and subjective well-being. It paints a comprehensive picture of well-being in OECD countries and other major economies, by looking at people’s material living conditions and quality of life across the population. The report responds to the needs of citizens for better information on well-being and of policy makers to give a more accurate picture of societal progress.

The report finds that well-being has increased on average over the past fifteen years: people are richer and more likely to be employed; they enjoy better housing conditions and are exposed to lower air pollution; they live longer and are more educated; they are also exposed to fewer crimes. But differences across countries are large. Furthermore, some groups of the population, particularly less educated and low-income people, tend to fare systematically worse in all dimensions of well-being considered in this report: for instance they live shorter lives and report greater health problems; their children obtain worse school results; they participate less in political activities; they can rely on lower social networks in case of needs; they are more exposed to crime and pollution; they tend to be less satisfied with their life as a whole than more educated and higher-income people.

How’s Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, launched by the Organization on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. The OECD Better Life Initiative aims to promote "Better Policies for Better Lives", in line with the OECD’s overarching mission. One of the other pillars of the OECD Better Life Initiative is the Your Better Life Index (www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org), an interactive composite index of well-being that aims at involving citizens in the debate on societal progress.

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Publication Date :
12 Oct 2011
DOI :
10.1787/9789264121164-en
 
Chapter
 

Subjective Well-Being You do not have access to this content

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    http://oecd.metastore.ingenta.com/content/3011061ec014.pdf
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Author(s):
OECD
Pages :
265–282
DOI :
10.1787/9789264121164-14-en

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Subjective well-being reflects the notion that how people experience a set of circumstances is as important as the circumstances themselves, and that people are the best judges of how their own lives are going. This chapter uses two measures of subjective well-being: an average measure of how people evaluate their lives as a whole, and a measure of the share of the population experiencing more positive than negative emotions. The chapter finds that, for most OECD countries, levels of subjective well-being are high, regardless of the measure used. However, there is much variation across countries, and some OECD countries have levels of subjective well-being that are lower than those experienced by some middleincome or developing nations. Although only limited information is available on changes over time, average life satisfaction appears to have increased over the past thirty years in some countries and stagnated in others. As the limited evidence on subjective well-being that is currently available is based on small scale unofficial surveys, the chapter draws attention to the importance of building on ongoing initiatives to establish more robust and comparable measures and to forge a better understanding of its drivers.
Also available in: French