Annex A. Taking stock of progress in the “Beyond GDP” measurement agenda since the 2009 Commission report

Since its release in 2009, the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission report has had much resonance within the statistical community, spurring a large number of measurement initiatives worldwide. It has also acted as a catalyst for research, and for communicating on the “Beyond GDP” agenda to the general public. Some of the key initiatives are described below, distinguishing between those undertaken by individual countries at the national level and those carried out by international agencies with a more global perspective.

National initiatives

Many countries have breathed life into the well-being measurement agenda advocated by the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission in 2009 by launching initiatives with frameworks and dashboards of indicators that are now published and updated regularly. While a few of these initiatives pre-date the release of the Commission report, the report surely accelerated the trend. Table A.1 details the key features of 15 prominent national measurement initiatives explicitly related to the recommendations of the Commission, listing, for each initiative, the type of framework used and the leading agency responsible for compiling the indicators. Although the motivations underlying the development of well-being measurement frameworks differed across countries, some features are notably similar:

  • First, all of the frameworks have used a multi-dimensional approach, typically combining data about people’s economic circumstances and material living conditions with indicators that consider a wide range of quality of life factors.

  • Second, consulting with wide audiences was often part of these national initiatives. While these consultations were done with varying levels of intensity, focusing on either the indicators or the dimensions included in the framework, they contributed to build the “legitimacy” of the indicator sets, and to ensure the longevity of the reporting (Box A.1).

  • Third, most of these indicator sets have included measures of people’s subjective well-being as one of their key components. Life satisfaction featured most commonly in these national indicators sets, but other types of subjective measures were also sometimes included, such as measures of experiential well-being and eudemonia. However, in all cases these subjective measures were used as a complement to, rather than as a replacement for, objective indicators.

Box A.1. Public consultations within national measurement initiatives

Several countries have undertaken public consultations as part of the process of developing measurement frameworks relating to well-being. These consultations were held at different stages of the process of establishing the well-being framework, and their inputs have shaped the framework in different ways. While public consultations require time and resources, and can significantly extend the time needed to complete the process of selecting indicators, they also contribute meaningful insight into what matters the most to people in different countries and regions. Examples of consultations undertaken in the context of the well-being initiatives include:

  • In Italy, as part of the process launched in 2010 by the Italian Statistical Office (ISTAT) of establishing the BES (“equitable and sustainable well-being”) framework, a steering group was established on the “Measurement of Progress in Italian Society”, made up of 33 representatives of business, professional associations, trade unions, environmental groups, cultural heritage groups, women groups, consumer protection groups and civil society networks. The steering group developed a multi-dimensional approach to measuring well-being. In addition, a Scientific Commission with 80 researchers and experts from ISTAT, universities and other institutions was established to consult on this process. Further, a survey representative of the Italian population was conducted (with about 45 000 people interviewed), inquiring which dimensions are most important for well-being. This was supported by a dedicated website, a blog and an online survey to consult the public on the committee’s decisions (with approximately 2 500 respondents). After presentation of the first report, the initiative was presented in a series of meetings in different regions. Since then, ISTAT publishes an annual publication on BES indicators, including composite measures for different thematic domains.

  • In New Zealand, the Treasury conducted targeted workshops when developing its Living Standards Framework. In the first round of consultation, held in 2009, workshops (with some 200 participants) were held with government, business, academia and community groups to get feedback on the proposed framework, on the best ways to communicate about it, and on what themes were most important. An advisory group, including representatives from government and civil society, was created to consult on the framework.1

  • In Germany a national dialogue (spread over a period of 6 months) was launched in 2015 to identify the issues that are most important for quality of life in the country and the measures that could be used to describe them.2 The dialogue, which included several types of public consultation (meetings, online surveys, postcards), involved about 200 meetings held throughout the country with over 8 000 participants. The Chancellor, members of government and Cabinet Ministers participated in 50 of these meetings. Civil society, representative organisations, business associations and trade unions also supported the dialogue. Over 7 000 people responded through the online survey and postcards. Results from this dialogue, together with international comparison and research projects, informed the framework (with 12 dimensions and 46 indicators) that was finally adopted by the government. The framework will be updated on a regular basis.

  • In the United Kingdom, the Measuring National Well-being programme, launched in November 2010, started with a 6-month National Debate on “what matters”, in order to understand what should count as measures of national well-being. The National Debate was carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and included 175 events held across the country, involving around 7 000 people and more than 34 000 responses, as well as responses from organisations representing many more people. Meetings were also held with citizens, hard-to-reach groups, organisations, charities, experts, the National Statistician’s Advisory Forum and a Technical Advisory Group (ONS, 2011). Following the National Debate, the ONS carried out public consultation on several other well-being measurement issues, including proposals of domains, headline measures, as well as on measures of human and natural capital.

  • In Israel, the process for selecting indicators to monitor “Well-being, Sustainability and Resilience” included a public consultation process held in parallel with the work of expert groups on each of 9 domains covered by the framework. Following the consultation, two additional domains were added to the framework. The consultation included an online survey (which garnered responses from around 1 600 respondents) and workshops with people lacking access to the internet (which included some 400 participants). Analyses of the responses from these two elements led to a mapping highlighting the dimensions that are most important for quality of life according to respondents. Expert groups comprising representatives of government, the private sector, civil society, labour unions, academia and other organisations were also set up for each domain.

  • In France, following the enactment of a law on “New Wealth Indicators” in 2015, the process of selecting indicators involved a two-fold process of consultation. The first part was the establishment of a working group of around 60 people (researchers, representatives of civil society, international organisations and experts) which established an initial list of themes and indicators. The second part of the process was a wider public consultation, intended to assess the adequacy of the indicators and to prioritise the themes and indicators in order to narrow down the final set. Three types of consultations were held: an online survey, where over 4 000 respondents were asked to order the themes according to their importance; a telephone survey with a representative sample of the total population, where respondents were asked to rank the themes and indicators; and four focus groups set up with ten participants in each, where the approach, themes and indicators selected were debated.

Conversely, one notable difference among these national initiatives concerned their leadership and motivation. In some countries, responsibility was with National Statistical Office or similar agencies (e.g. Austria, the Netherlands), suggesting that the underlying rationale of these initiatives was mainly that of providing additional metrics beyond GDP, without necessarily embedding these measures into policy. In other cases, however, measurement frameworks were developed by a centre-of-government agency (e.g. the Prime Minister’s office in Israel and Sweden; the Federal Chancellery in Germany) or by a combination of policy-related agencies (e.g. Slovenia, Italy, France, Finland), with a clear ambition to use these metrics in policy settings (see Chapter 4).



International initiatives

Work undertaken at the international level has mainly focused on mobilising existing statistical information and on providing the basis for improving well-being statistics in the future. For example, in 2011, the OECD presented a framework on measuring well-being, largely based on the Commission domains and dimensions (Box A.2), populated with a number of comparable indicators, for monitoring and benchmarking the performances of its member countries (i.e. to identify strengths and weaknesses). The indicators used were mainly sourced from official statistics but also relied on comparable measures drawn from non-official sources (used as “place holders”) for those areas where high-quality official statistics were not yet available. The OECD also released in 2016 a dashboard of indicators of household economic well-being to describe short-term developments in household conditions that could be contrasted to those in quarterly GDP; this comparison highlighted the significant differences over the business cycle between household-level and economy-wide measures.1

Similarly, in Europe, the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) engaged in a process (in the context of a broader “INSEE-Eurostat” Sponsorship Group on measuring progress, well-being and sustainable development, launched to respond to the Commission recommendations)2 that led to the development of a set of Quality of Life Indicators (17 headlines indicators pertaining to 9 dimensions) that are regularly used to monitor conditions in EU member countries (Eurostat, 2017).

The UN SDG process that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda (with its associated goals, targets and indicators for global monitoring) by the UN General Assembly in 2015 also referred to the importance of building on ongoing efforts to develop measures of progress complementing GDP.3

Box A.2. The OECD Better Life Initiative

In 2011, the OECD presented its framework for measuring well-being, developed in consultation with the Statistical Offices of its member countries. The framework (Figure A.1) was largely based upon the recommendations of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission as well as on a variety of other national and international initiatives. It conceptualises well-being as a multi-dimensional construct, distinguishing between current well-being and its sustainability over time and, within the former, between material conditions and quality of life. Most of the 11 dimensions of current well-being are those discussed by the Commission report, ranging from health status to education and skills, quality of the local environment, personal security and subjective well-being, although excluding the dimension of “economic insecurity” (due to lack of suitable indicators), and detailing “material conditions” in terms of three more specific dimensions (income and wealth, jobs and earnings, and housing). As in the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report, the OECD framework describes sustainability in terms of resources that are critical for future well-being (natural, human, economic and social capital).

The biennial OECD report How’s Life? presents a set of internationally comparable well-being indicators for OECD and partner countries pertaining to current well-being, resources for future well-being, and well-being inequalities (describing “vertical inequalities”, i.e. the gaps between people at the top and people at the bottom of the distribution; “horizontal inequalities”, i.e. gaps between groups of people by gender, age and education level; and well-being deprivations, i.e. the share of the population falling below a threshold value or standard of well-being). Table A.1 presents the indicators included in the How’s Life? dashboard. Since its release in 2011, special chapters of How’s Life? have also provided evidence and analysis on specific themes (gender differences in well-being and job quality in 2013; child well-being, volunteering, and well-being in sub-national regions in 2015; migrants’ well-being and governance in 2017), as well as identifying priorities for future statistical work in these areas.

Figure A.1. The OECD well-being framework
Figure A.1. The OECD well-being framework

Source: OECD (2017), How’s Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Beyond these initiatives to develop dashboards of indicators, however, a significant part of the work by international organisations has been devoted to creating the basis for improved well-being statistics in the future, with a focus on those areas that currently lack a foundation with official statistics.

  • On the environment side, a milestone (described in Chapter 3) was the adoption by the UN Statistical Commission in 2012 of the Core Accounts of the System of Economic and Environmental Accounts (SEEA) as an international statistical standard, with a companion set of ecosystem accounts recognised as “experimental” (also see Chapter 9 by De Smedt, Giovannini and Radermacher in the accompanying volume). While the SEEA process pre-dates the Commission report, it tapped into one of its key areas of focus, and countries’ efforts to implement the SEEA were boosted by the favourable reaction of the statistical community to the Commission report.

  • On the economic side, G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors endorsed in 2009 recommendations to address some of the data gaps revealed by the global financial crisis. The initiative, which is led by the Financial Stability Board and the International Monetary Fund with participation of other international agencies (such as the OECD) is focusing on the monitoring of risk in the financial sector, on the analysis of vulnerabilities, inter-connections and spill-overs (including cross-border), and on reflecting information on economic inequalities in macro-economic statistics. Several of these aspects featured prominently in the 2009 report.

  • On labour statistics, the 2013 revision of the international standards governing the compilation of labour force surveys explicitly referred to the Commission’s recommendations to justify the need to revise and broaden the existing standards in order to better measure people’s engagement in different forms of work (paid and unpaid) as well as labour underutilisation (ILO, 2013).

  • More generally, several international organisations undertook methodological work in areas identified by the Commission:

  • The OECD developed a series of statistical guidelines to produce comparable measures in the areas of subjective well-being, wealth inequalities, quality of the working environment and trust, as well as a framework to allow the joint analysis and measurement of household income, consumption and wealth.

  • Within the UN system, a range of measurement initiatives undertaken by various UN agencies explicitly referred to the Commission report as part of the motivation for work aimed at improving the quality and comparability of existing statistics in specific fields, such as time use (UNECE, 2013) and victimisation (UNODC, 2015), at extending their reach to new areas (e.g. governance statistics, with the creation of a UN City Group on Governance Statistics), and at providing a more comprehensive framework for measuring sustainable development (recommendations by the Conference of European Statisticians, UNECE, 2014).

Communicating information on well-being

While dashboards of headline indicators (the tool advocated by the Commission in 2009) are useful to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual countries, or changes in countries’ conditions over time, they are less than ideal when it comes to communicating with the public (and policy-makers) on a broad range of themes, through indicators that have different scales and interpretation. This has spurred a range of initiatives to develop tools that could provide a more parsimonious description of country’s conditions. The OECD created a standard visual to monitor countries’ relative performances that is used in many publications (see example of the Netherlands in Figure A.2), as well as an interactive web-platform, the Better Life Index4 as a communication tool to engage people in the “Beyond GDP” debate. The Better Life Index addressed one specific recommendation put forward by the Commission.5 Its website enables users to explore a selection of the OECD’s well-being indicators, and to build their own international index of well-being, by rating the dimensions of well-being that matter the most to them. The UNDP, on its side, upgraded its Human Development Index (which relies on indicators for income, health and education) to capture the effect of inequalities in these dimensions. Several national initiatives have also featured user-friendly web-based interactive dashboards and data exploration tools, including the German Chancellery’s “Well-being in Germany” report; and Statistics Austria’s “How’s Austria?”.

Figure A.2. The OECD’s How’s Life? assessment of the comparative strengths and weaknesses in average levels of current well-being, the Netherlands
Figure A.2. The OECD’s How’s Life? assessment of the comparative strengths and weaknesses in average levels of current well-being, the Netherlands

Note: This chart shows the Netherlands’ relative strengths and weaknesses in well-being when compared with other OECD countries. For both positive and negative indicators (such as homicides, marked with an “*”), longer bars always indicate better outcomes (i.e. higher well-being), whereas shorter bars always indicate worse outcomes (i.e. lower well-being). If data are missing for any given indicator, the relevant segment of the circle is shaded in white.

Source: OECD (2017), How’s Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Table A.1. Selected national well-being measurement initiatives and indicator sets


Measurement initiative/ indicator set

Leading agency

Short description


How’s Austria

Statistics Austria

Statistics Austria publishes since 2010 an annual report on 30 key indicators categorised into three dimensions: material wealth, quality of life and environmental sustainability. An interactive tool allows users to explore historical trends and compare across indicators.1


Complementary indicators to GDP

National Accounts Institute

A law adopted In 2014 stipulates that an annual report be published by the National Accounts Institute on Complementary Indicators to GDP, aimed at measuring people’s well-being and societal development at the federal level. The report was published in 2016 and 2017, reporting trends for 67 indicators grouped in 13 themes and covering three dimensions: current generation (here and now), future generation (later) and other countries (somewhere else).


Buen Vivir

INEC (Ecuador Statistics Office)

In support of wider work on Buen Vivir, the Ecuador Statistics Office (INEC) compiled a set of indicators to monitor progress.



Statistics Finland and the Prime Minister’s Office

Findicator, launched in 2009 by Finland’s Prime Minister’s Office and Statistics Finland, is an online compendium of over 100 indicators on social progress. A specific category on well-being indicators includes 23 indicators across eight dimensions.2


Gut Leben in Deutschland

Federal government

The German federal government launched the “Wellbeing in Germany – what matters to us” initiative in response to a commitment of the December 2013 coalition agreement that “We wish to align our policies more closely with the values and hopes of German citizens and we will therefore conduct a dialogue with them in order to gain an understanding of their views on wellbeing issues…”. Building on a national consultation and based on the findings of other national and international research projects, the initiative includes 46 indicators grouped in 12 dimensions to measure the current status and trends in well-being in Germany. The indicators will be updated on a regular basis.3


Measures of equitable and sustainable well-being

National Council for the Economy and Labour (CNEL) and National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT)

The “Equitable and Sustainable Well-Being” (BES) initiative led to the creation of a well-being framework based on the recommendation of a committee convened by the Italian Prime Minister, which is monitored through a set of indicators and an annual report by ISTAT. A law approved in 2016 stipulated that a narrower framework be developed for reporting to parliament in the context of budgetary discussions.


Well-being, Sustainability and National Resilience Indicators

Central Bureau of Statistics

A government resolution approved in April 2015 asked the Central Bureau of Statistics to publish a set of well-being, sustainability, and national resilience indicators. The 2015 resolution included indicators in 10 domains (quality of employment; personal security; health; housing and infrastructure; education; higher education and skills; personal and social well-being; environment; civic engagement and governance; and material standard of living) and called for the development of indicators in two additional domains (information technology; and leisure, culture, and community). For each domain, 8 indicators were selected.4


Commission on Measuring Well-Being

Commissioned by government

A Commission on Measuring Well-Being was established in 2010, under the government’s Cabinet Office and with participation of experts, to promote research and studies on new growth and well-being, and to develop and improve statistics in these fields as a part of the government’s “New Growth Strategy”. In December 2011, the Commission released the report “Measuring National Well-Being - Proposed Well-being Indicators”, whose framework (based on the three domains socio-economic conditions, health, and relatedness) was populated through subjective and objective indicators.5


Well-being GDP/ Luxembourg Index of Well-being

Statec (the National Statistics and Economic Studies Institute), the Economic and Social Council, and the Higher Council for Sustainable Development

The Luxembourg Index of Well-Being (“PIBien-être”) was developed through a collaboration between the National Statistics and Economic Studies Institute (Statec), the Economic and Social Council, and the Higher Council for Sustainable Development. It reports on 63 indicators, grouped under 11 domains of life, which closely correspond to the domains of the OECD framework for measuring well-being. In an additional step, these indicators are also summarised through a synthetic index. This is intended to provide a “compass” to guide users through the data, and is used in the 2017 report to evaluate trends in overall well-being, as well as trends in specific domains, since 2009.


Monitor of Well-Being

Central Bureau of Statistics

In 2017, the Cabinet commissioned Statistics Netherlands (CBS) to compile an annual “Monitor of well-being” to facilitate public and political debate. Policy assessment agencies – the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) – will contribute to the Monitor, and conduct a periodic exploration of well-being based on it. The monitor is based on the “Sustainability Monitor”, published by CBS since 2011, which reports on progress on three themes (quality of life here and now; resources for the future; and impacts on other countries) and a total of nine dimensions.6


Scotland Performs/ the National Performance Framework

Scottish Government

The Scottish government’s National Performance Framework (NPF) was first released as part of the 2007 Spending Review, providing a 10-year vision for Scotland which uses an outcomes-based approach to measure government’s achievements, rather than inputs and outputs. It features 5 strategic objectives, 16 national outcomes, and 55 national indicators. The NPF forms the basis of performance agreements with public service delivery bodies, and is used for monitoring their effectiveness.


Indicators of Well-Being in Slovenia

Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD), Statistics Slovenia (SURS), the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO), National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ)

Indicators of Well-being were developed as part of the National Development Strategy launched by the Slovenian government in 2015 to establish a common vision of Slovenia’s future to 2050. The indicator set is implemented by a consortium of four institutions (the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development, IMAD; the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, SURS; the Slovenian Environment Agency, ARSO; and the National Institute of Public Health, NIJZ), with indicators grouped under three categories (Material, Social, and Environmental well-being). The indicators are updated once a year, with data presented from 1996.7

United Kingdom

Measuring National Wellbeing (MNW) programme

The UK Office for National Statistics

The MNW, launched in 2010, aims to monitor and report on “how the UK as a whole is doing” through measures of well-being. A progress report is published bi-annually covering areas including health, natural environment, personal finances and crime. The measures include objective and subjective data.





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Table A.2. Well-being indicators included in How’s Life? 2017

Panel A. Current well-being, averages

Quality of life

Material conditions

Work-life balance

Income and wealth

Working hours (share of employees usually working 50 hours or more per week)

Household net adjusted disposable income per capita (USD at current PPP rates)

Time devoted to leisure and personal care (hours per day, people in full-time employment)

Household net wealth per household (USD at current PPP rates)

Health status

Jobs and earnings

Life expectancy at birth (number of years that a new born can expect to live)

Employment rate (population aged 15-64)

Perceived health status (share of adults reporting “good” or “very good” health)

Average annual gross earnings per full-time employee (USD at PPP rates)

Education and skills

Labour market insecurity due to unemployment (average expected earnings loss due to unemployment as a share of previous earnings)

Educational attainment (share of people 26-64 having attained at least upper secondary education)

Incidence of job strain (share of employees experiencing a number of job demands exceeding the number of job resources)

Competencies of the adult population aged 16-65 (mean proficiency in literacy and numeracy)

Long-term unemployment rate (share of the labour force unemployed for one year or more)

Cognitive skills of 15-year-old students (mean score for reading, mathematics and science)


Social connections

Average number of rooms per person (excluding bathroom, toilet, kitchenette, utility rooms, garages)

Social support (share of people who report that they have friends or relatives whom they can count on in times of trouble)

Housing affordability (share of household gross adjusted disposable income spent on housing rent and maintenance)

Civic engagement and governance

Voter turnout (percentage of votes cast among the population registered to vote)

Having a say in what the government does (share of people aged 16-65 who feel they have a say in what the government does)

Environmental quality

Water quality (Percentage of satisfied people in the overall population)

Air quality (exposure to outdoor air pollution by fine particulate matter, population-weighted mean PM2.5 concentrations, micrograms per cubic metre, 3-year moving average)

Personal security

Homicides (age-standardised prevalence of deaths due to assault)

Feelings of safety (share of people feeling safe when walking alone at night in the city or area where they live)

Subjective well-being

Life satisfaction (mean values on an 0-10-point scale)


Panel B. Current well-being, inequalities

Vertical inequalities

Horizontal inequalities (by age, gender and educational level)


Income and wealth

S80/S20 household disposable income ratio

Gaps in average household disposable income

Relative income poverty

Share of household net wealth of the top 10%

Gaps in average household net wealth

Asset-based poverty

Jobs and earnings

P90/P10 gross earnings ratio

Gaps in average hourly earnings

Risk of low pay


Gaps in employment rate

Unemployment rate


Gaps in unemployment rate



Gaps in risk of low pay


Housing conditions



Share of people spending more than 40% of disposable income on housing



Share of households living in overcrowded dwellings

Health status

Standard deviation of age at death

Gaps in self-reported health status

Share of people rating their health status as fair, bad, or very bad


Difference in life expectancy (years) at age 25 by education level, for men and women


Work-life balance

S80/S20 hours worked ratio

Gaps in average time devoted to personal care and leisure

Share of employees usually working 50 hours or more per week

S80/S20 ratio in time devoted to personal care and leisure

Gaps in incidence of long working hours


Education and skills

P90/P10 PISA scores ratio

Gaps in share of adults aged 25-64 with upper secondary or tertiary education

Share of adults aged 25-64 with below upper secondary education

P90/P10 PIAAC scores ratio

Gaps in average PISA scores across all fields

Share of 15-year-old students who score at or below Level 2 in science, reading and mathematics (PISA)


Gaps in average PISA scores across all fields by the parents’ education level

Share of adults who score at or below Level 1 in both literacy and numeracy (PIAAC)


Gaps in average PIAAC scores across both fields


Social connections

S80/S20 ratio in time spent on social activities (among participants)

Gaps in average time spent on social activities

Share of people who report not having relatives or friends to count on


Gaps in quality of network support


Civic engagement and governance

S80/S20 political efficacy ratio

Gaps in political efficacy

Share of people who consider having no influence on the national government


Gaps in self-reported voter turnout

Share of people who have not cast a vote in national elections

Environmental quality


Gaps in satisfaction with the quality of the water in the local area

Share of people exposed to more than 15 micrograms/m3 of PM2.5



Share of people reporting not to be satisfied with the quality of the water in their local area

Personal security


Gaps in deaths by assault per 100 000 population

Deaths by assault per 100 000 population


Gaps in feelings of security when walking alone at night

Share of people reporting not to feel safe when walking alone at night

Subjective well-being

S80/S20 life satisfaction ratio

Gaps in average life satisfaction

Share of people reporting low life satisfaction



Share of people reporting negative affect balance

Panel C. Resources for future well-being




Natural capital


Greenhouse gas emissions from domestic production (CO2 equivalent, tonnes per capita)



Carbon dioxide emissions embodied in domestic final demand (tonnes per capita)


Population exposure to outdoor air pollution by fine particulate matter (Population-weighted mean PM2.5 concentrations, micrograms per cubic metre, 3-year moving average)*



Forest area in square kilometres, per thousand people



Renewable freshwater resources (1 000m3 per capita, long-term annual average)



Freshwater abstractions (gross abstraction from groundwater or surface water bodies, cubic metres, per capita)



Threatened species (share of all knows species, separately for birds, mammal and vascular plants)



Human capital


Share of people 25-24 who have attained at least upper secondary education*



Educational expectancy (average number of years in education that a child aged 5 can expect to undertake before age 39)


Cognitive skills of 15-year-old students (mean score for reading, mathematics and science)*



Adult skills (mean proficiency in literacy and numeracy of the population, aged 16-65)*




Long-term unemployment (share of the labour force unemployed for 1 year or more)*


Life expectancy at birth (number of years that a new born can expect to live)*





Prevalence of smoking (share of people aged 15 and over who report smoking every day)



Prevalence of obesity

(share of the population aged 15 and older)

Social capital

Trust in others (mean score, on a scale from 0 to 10)



Trust in the police (mean score, on a scale from 0 to 10)



Trust in the national government

(mean score, on a scale from 0 to 10)



Voter turnout (percentage of votes cast among the population registered to vote)*



Government stakeholder engagement when developing primary laws and subordinate regulations




Volunteering (share of the working-age population who declared having volunteered through an organisation at least once a month, over the preceding year)


Economic capital

Produced fixed assets (USD per capita, at 2010 PPPs)




Gross fixed capital formation (annual growth rates)


Financial net worth of the total economy (USD per capita, at current PPPs)



Intellectual property assets (USD per capita, at 2010 PPPs)




Investment in R&D (percentage of GDP)




Household debt (percentage of net household disposable income)

Household net wealth (USD at current PPPs, per household)*



Financial net worth of general government (percentage of GDP)





Leverage of the banking sector

(ratio of selected assets to banks’ own equity)*

* Denotes indicators that are also considered headline measures of current well-being.

Source: OECD (2017a), How’s Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris,


← 1. The quarterly indicators used by the OECD refer to real household disposable income, net cash transfers from governments to households, real household consumption expenditure, consumer confidence, households’ savings rate, households’ indebtedness, financial net worth, unemployment and labour under-utilisation rates. See

← 2. The final report of the Sponsorship Group, released in November 2011 following its adoption by the European Statistical System Committee, identified around 50 actions to be taken by the European Statistical System. The report stressed the need for the European Statistical System to use a multi-dimensional approach when defining quality of life, to develop indicators measuring sustainability and to use complementary indicators coming from National Accounts that would better reflect the situation of households. Since 2012, these actions have been integrated and gradually implemented in the European Statistical Programme.

← 3. Article 38 of the final resolution of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, “recognize(s) the need for broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions… In this regard we request the United Nations Statistical Commission, in consultation with relevant United Nations system entities and other relevant organizations, to launch a programme of work in this area, building on existing initiatives”.

← 4.

← 5. Recommendation 8 was that “Statistical Offices should provide the information needed to aggregate across quality of life dimensions, allowing the construction of different indexes”.

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