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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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Resources for future well-being

Choices and decisions that are made today can have important consequences for well-being tomorrow. To provide a first glimpse of future well-being prospects, this chapter focuses on some of the key resources that are likely to shape well-being outcomes over time. It provides a small set of measures to illustrate elements of the natural, human, social and economic “capital stocks” that exist today, and that provide a store of wealth for later well-being. It also considers some of the risk factors that can have a bearing on those stocks. The indicators range from forest area through to trust in public institutions, and from educational attainment in young adults, to household debt. While there is considerable work to be done to further develop this indicator set, this chapter shows the wide range of evidence that is already available today, and highlights some of the gaps that need to be filled in order to have a more complete dashboard of measures in the future. In the longer term, the goal is to be able to evaluate current well-being outcomes in the context of the resources left for future generations.

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