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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? in figures

Measuring what matters for people’s well-being requires wide range of indicators, captured on a human scale, and able to reflect the diverse experiences of different population groups. This chapter documents the latest evidence on current well-being in OECD and partner countries, providing key statistics on 11 different dimensions of life, ranging from people’s material living conditions (such as their income and wealth, jobs and earnings, and housing), through to the factors that affect their quality of life (from their health status, to work-life balance, education and skills, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment quality, personal security and subjective well-being). Besides providing a snapshot of people’s current levels of well-being, this chapter also examines whether life has been getting better lately. It focuses on the five years since 2009 and reports a very mixed performance – both across indicators and among countries. Differences in the levels of people’s well-being by age, gender, education and income are also described, highlighting how inequalities in well-being outcomes can differ substantially across OECD countries.

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