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How's Life? 2020

Measuring Well-being

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How’s Life? charts whether life is getting better for people in 37 OECD countries and 4 partner countries. This fifth edition presents the latest evidence from an updated set of over 80 indicators, covering current well-being outcomes, inequalities, and resources for future well-being. Since 2010, people’s well-being has improved in many respects, but progress has been slow or deteriorated in others, including how people connect with each other and their government. Large gaps by gender, age and education persist across most well-being outcomes. Generally, OECD countries that do better on average also feature greater equality between population groups and fewer people living in deprivation. Many OECD countries with poorer well-being in 2010 have since experienced the greatest gains. However, advances in current well-being have not always been matched by improvements in the resources that sustain well-being over time, with warning signs emerging across natural, human, economic and social capital. Beyond an overall analysis of well-being trends since 2010, this report explores in detail the 15 dimensions of the OECD Better Life Initiative, including health, subjective well-being, social connections, natural capital, and more, and looks at each country’s performance in dedicated country profiles.

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Income and Wealth

Together, income and wealth shape households’ economic well-being. Since 2010, OECD average household disposable income per capita has increased by 6%, cumulatively. Meanwhile, household median net wealth has fallen by 4%. In European OECD countries, 1 in 5 households find it difficult to make ends meet, and across the OECD nearly 1 in 8 live in relative income poverty. Additionally, more than 1 in 3 households are financially insecure, meaning that, while not currently income poor, they would be at risk of falling into poverty if they had to forgo 3 months of income. On average, people in the top 20% of the income distribution earn 5.4 times more than people in the bottom 20%. The wealthiest 10% of households own more than half of all household wealth. Younger people are more likely to live in households with lower income and wealth, and are at greater risk of poverty.

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