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How's Life? 2015

Measuring Well-being

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How’s Life? describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s well-being in OECD and partner countries. It includes a wide variety of statistics, capturing both material well-being (such as income, jobs and housing) and the broader quality of people’s lives (such as their health, education, work-life balance, environment, social connections, civic engagement, subjective well-being and safety). The report documents the latest evidence on well-being, as well as changes over time, and the distribution of well-being outcomes among different groups of the population.

This third edition of How’s Life? develops our understanding of well-being in new ways. There is a special focus on child well-being, which finds that not all children are getting a good start in life, and those living in less affluent families face more risks to their well-being. The report introduces new measures to capture some of the natural, human, social and economic resources that play a role in supporting well-being over time. A chapter on volunteering suggests that volunteer work can create a virtuous circle: doing good makes people feel good, and brings a variety of other well-being benefits to both volunteers and to society at large. Finally, the report looks at inequalities in well-being across different regions within countries, demonstrating that where people live can shape their opportunities for living well.

How’s Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, which features a series of publications on measuring well-being, as well as the Better Life Index, an interactive website that aims to involve citizens in the debate about what a better life means to them.

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How's life for children?

Childhood is a unique period of human development, and a critical phase for preparing future societies to be prosperous and sustainable. This chapter discusses the main measurement issues in child well-being, and then presents evidence of how children fare in 10 aspects of their lives. The analysis shows that a significant number of children live in poverty and in workless households in many OECD countries, and that risk of poverty has increased amid the Great Recession. While risks to health in early infancy are low in most OECD countries, they are substantially higher among adolescents. Most children grow up in a friendly social environment and many of them are socially engaged. However, a non-negligible share of children are at risk of being victimised. Children’s experiences are also extremely diverse across ages, between genders, and according to the socio-economic background of their families. As children grow older, their relationships with schoolmates and parents become more difficult, and their life satisfaction and self-reported health fall. Children from poorer families experience lower well-being than children from richer families in almost all dimensions considered in this chapter.

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