OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Papers:

Testing the evidence, how good are public sector responsiveness measures and how to improve them? (with OECD Public Governance Directorate)

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)


What matters the most to people?

Evidence from the OECD Better Life Index users’ responses

The OECD Better Life Index is an interactive composite index that aggregates average measures of country’s well-being outcomes through weights defined by users. This paper studies these weights by analysing the responses given by close to 130 000 users since 2011 to date. The paper has three goals. First, to investigate the factors shaping users’ preferences over a set of 11 well-being dimensions. Second, to provide insights into users’ preferences for a large group of countries which differ in terms of culture and living conditions. Third, to test for the effects of users’ satisfaction with respect to a given well-being dimension on the weight they attach to it, across different population groups. Various empirical models are used to identify responses’ patterns and see whether they can be accounted for by respondents’ characteristics and their perceived well-being. The paper finds that health status, education and life satisfaction are the aspects that matter the most for BLI users in OECD countries. Men assign more importance to income than women, while women value community and work-life balance more than men. Health, safety, housing and civic engagement become more important with age, while life satisfaction, work-life balance, jobs, income and community are particularly important for youth. There are also clear regional patterns in the choices by BLI users; for instance education, jobs and civic engagement are particularly important in South America while personal safety and work-life balance matter a lot in Asia-Pacific. Analysis carried out on a subset of observations (i.e. BLI-users who completed an extended questionnaire) finds that, for several well-being dimensions (i.e. jobs, housing, community, health, education, civic engagement, personal safety, life satisfaction and work-life balance), there is a positive and linear relationship between individual preferences and self-reported satisfaction in the same dimension, with evidence of distinctly different patterns of association within the population in the case of income and education.


Keywords: users, composite index, preferences, well-being, Better Life Index
JEL: C43: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics / Index Numbers and Aggregation; leading indicators; O1: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development; I31: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / General Welfare; Well-Being
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error