How's Life? 2017

Measuring Well-being

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How’s Life? 2017 charts the promises and pitfalls for people’s well-being in 35 OECD countries and 6 partner countries. It presents the latest evidence from 50 indicators, covering both current well-being outcomes and resources for future well-being, and including changes since 2005. During this period there have been signs of progress, but gains in some aspects of life have been offset by losses elsewhere. This fourth edition highlights the many faces of inequality, showing that gaps in people’s achievements and opportunities extend right across the different dimensions of well-being. It exposes divisions according to age, gender, and education, and reveals pockets of inequality in all OECD countries. It also brings to light the many well-being disadvantages that migrants face in adapting to life abroad. Additionally, the report examines governance as seen from the citizen’s perspective, revealing gaps between public institutions and the people they serve. Finally, it provides a country-by-country perspective, pinpointing strengths, challenges and changes in well-being over time in 41 country profiles.

How’s Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, which features a range of studies and analysis about people’s well-being and how to measure it, and includes the interactive Better Life Index website.


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Governance and well-being

People expect public institutions to create the conditions for them to thrive and prosper, to be responsive to their needs, to support them in exceptional circumstances, and to perform their functions efficiently. This chapter explores the role of governance in shaping people’s well-being, with a focus on how people experience and engage with public institutions at the national level. While governance remains a complex multidimensional concept lacking a standardised definition, key components required for “good governance” and their relation to well-being have been identified in the literature. For each of these components, an analysis is made of the often-limited comparative evidence, which comes mainly from non-official household surveys. The evidence shown in this chapter suggests, amongst other things, that beyond voting other forms of political participation are weak; that only one in three adults believes they have a say in what government does; and that people tend to be dissatisfied with government efforts to reduce inequalities. Finally, the main steps to be implemented in order to improve the measurement of governance are discussed.

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