How's Life?

Measuring Well-being

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Every person aspires to a good life. But what does “a good or a better life” mean? This report looks at the most important aspects that shape people’s lives and well-being: income, jobs, housing, health, work and life-balance, education, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment, personal security and subjective well-being. It paints a comprehensive picture of well-being in OECD countries and other major economies, by looking at people’s material living conditions and quality of life across the population. The report responds to the needs of citizens for better information on well-being and of policy makers to give a more accurate picture of societal progress.

The report finds that well-being has increased on average over the past fifteen years: people are richer and more likely to be employed; they enjoy better housing conditions and are exposed to lower air pollution; they live longer and are more educated; they are also exposed to fewer crimes. But differences across countries are large. Furthermore, some groups of the population, particularly less educated and low-income people, tend to fare systematically worse in all dimensions of well-being considered in this report: for instance they live shorter lives and report greater health problems; their children obtain worse school results; they participate less in political activities; they can rely on lower social networks in case of needs; they are more exposed to crime and pollution; they tend to be less satisfied with their life as a whole than more educated and higher-income people.

How’s Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, launched by the Organization on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. The OECD Better Life Initiative aims to promote “Better Policies for Better Lives”, in line with the OECD’s overarching mission. One of the other pillars of the OECD Better Life Initiative is the Your Better Life Index ( www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org ), an interactive composite index of well-being that aims at involving citizens in the debate on societal progress.

English Also available in: French, Chinese

Health status

Being healthy is one of the most valued aspects of people’s lives, and one that affects the probability of having a job, earning an adequate income, and actively participating in a range of valued social activities. People’s health status is, however, difficult to measure, as it encompasses a variety of dimensions, such as the length of people’s lives, the presence and severity of chronic conditions, and the many aspects of physical morbidity and mental health. This chapter describes people’s health status through some well-established indicators of mortality and morbidity. In most OECD countries, people can expect to live long lives and report good or very good health. However, a large proportion of the population report chronic health conditions, and the number of those who are limited in some way in their daily activities is also significant. Inequalities in health status are also pervasive, with women and older people reporting lower satisfaction with their health status, and with large health disparities across income groups. Comparative information on people’s health status remains limited in important ways, and the same applies to our understanding of the interplay of the various factors that determine health outcomes.

English Also available in: French



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