How's Life? 2015

Measuring Well-being

image of How's Life? 2015

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.

English Also available in: Spanish, French, Korean

The value of giving

Volunteering and well-being

This chapter analyses the importance and features of volunteer work – i.e. the time devoted to unpaid non-compulsory activities whose concern is the common good – across OECD countries. The evidence shown in this chapter suggests that one in three adults volunteers through an organisation at least once a year. This proportion is potentially higher when informal help to friends, neighbours and strangers is considered. Volunteering produces benefits not only for the beneficiaries but also for the volunteers themselves: volunteering helps people to acquire skills and knowledge that may enhance career development or employment prospects, and is also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and positive moods. Moreover, volunteering is beneficial to society at large and plays an important economic role. The lack of a standard definition and of comparable data makes it difficult to paint a definitive picture of the level and extent of volunteer work in the OECD area; the main steps to be implemented in order to improve the measurement of volunteering are discussed.

English Also available in: Spanish, French



This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error