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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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Human Capital

Human Capital refers to the knowledge, competencies, skills and health status of individuals, which are viewed here from the perspective of their contribution to future well-being. The performance of OECD countries regarding human capital is mixed. While progress has been made in raising the educational attainment of the youth population, large gaps between countries remain. Labour market underutilisation, which poses risks to human capital through the degradation of skills, has improved since 2010 for most OECD countries. Only one country experienced an increase in premature mortality over the past decade. In terms of risk to future health status, smoking prevalence has declined steadily since 2005 in all but two OECD countries. However, obesity remains a major risk to human capital, with the large majority of OECD countries experiencing rising obesity rates over that same period.

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