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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Well-being today and tomorrow

An overview

This chapter draws together the big picture on well-being, outlining the OECD framework for measuring well-being, and including an overview of the detailed findings in . An analysis of well-being strengths and weaknesses finds that every OECD country has room for improvement, and countries with similar levels of GDP per capita can have very different well-being profiles. There can also be large gaps in well-being within countries, for example between younger and older people, between men and women, and between people with different levels of education. Changes in well-being since 2009 suggest a mixed picture, with progress in some countries and on some indicators, but continuing challenges in others. Recent trends relating to natural, human, social and economic capital highlight resources and risks for future well-being. Data from www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org show which dimensions of well-being people prioritise when building their own Better Life Index. Finally, some of the latest advances in the measurement and use of well-being data are described.

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