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The province of Córdoba, Argentina, recognises the importance of measuring regional well-being to design and implement better regional development policies. It counts a wide array of programmes, aiming to improve well-being outcomes in areas such as education, health, safety, and employment, among others. To support more effective, efficient and inclusive policies, the province has applied the OECD regional well-being framework and defined a set of 30 indicators for measuring 12 dimensions of well-being. This was a major statistical effort to collect granular and up-to-date data from a new household survey in 2018. This rich base of evidence is expected to help policy makers in setting ambitious priorities and targets, and in facilitating co-ordinated action across different policy areas and levels of government.

As in OECD countries, in Argentina, regional governments play a key role to improve well-being outcomes. The province of Córdoba, for example, has exclusive responsibility for pre-school, primary and secondary education, education for special groups and adults, as well as professional and technical training. Other areas of provincial responsibility include social housing, environment and citizen security. As such, the bulk of provincial government spending, around 48% of expenditure of the 2018 budget, is dedicated to providing social services, including health, education, jobs and housing, among others.

This report assesses citizens’ well-being in the province of Córdoba, Argentina, particularly in the four major agglomerations of the province that are Gran Córdoba, Río Cuarto-Las Higueras, Villa María-Villa Nueva and San Francisco, and compares living standards to those observed in other OECD regions. Around 2 million people (55% of the province’s population) live in these four agglomerations. The report also provides guidance on how to use the set of well-being indicators for stronger and more inclusive regional development in the province of Córdoba.

Key findings of this report show that Córdoba’s four largest agglomerations display above average living standards compared to peer Latin American regions, but lag behind in some well-being dimensions compared to other OECD regions. In particular:

  • Córdoba’s population enjoys high levels of community and social support, as well as life satisfaction, ranking in the top 5% and top 20% of OECD regions, respectively.

  • Compared to regions in Chile and Mexico, people in the Córdoba agglomerations have higher levels of educational attainment, participate more in elections and are less likely to be victims of violent crimes.

  • Income in Córdoba agglomerations is equivalent to 80% of the OECD average, but lower than in 60% of OECD regions. At the same time, when examining the distribution of income, the agglomerations present lower levels of inequalities than most OECD regions, well below the majority of their Latin American peers.

  • In terms of housing, the four agglomerations perform just slightly above the bottom 20% of OECD regions.

  • Lastly, and primarily due to a low life expectancy at birth and above average infant mortality rates, the Córdoba agglomerations rank among the bottom 20% of the OECD regions in the health dimension.

There are also notable differences across the four agglomerations in areas such as jobs, housing and work-life balance:

  • Youth unemployment and informal employment rates are considerably different from one agglomeration to the other. Whereas in Villa María-Villa Nueva the youth unemployment rate is close to 11%, in Gran Córdoba it is as high as 27%.

  • Whereas in Río Cuarto-Las Higueras only 2% of people live in dwellings without access to a private indoor flushing toilet connected to sewer lines or to a septic tank, in San Francisco the equivalent indicator goes up to 11.4%. On the other hand, San Francisco is the best performing agglomeration in terms of housing space, home ownership and housing expenditure on rent.

  • Inequalities in work-life balance are in some cases associated to the population size of the agglomeration. While 39% of Gran Córdoba’s inhabitants take over 30 minutes to get to their main place of work, this is the case only for 4% of the inhabitants of San Francisco, the smallest agglomeration of the province.

The report’s assessment suggests that gender inclusion is an area of improvement that requires specific attention. Gender gaps in unemployment are considerably higher in the agglomerations of Córdoba (3.6 percentage points) than in the OECD (1.7 percentage points). Gender disparities in the labour market are also reflected in the income of households. Male-headed households report average incomes 20% higher than female-headed ones. This is even more surprising given that the proportion of women with at least upper secondary education is considerably greater than that of men (by at least 5 percentage points).

The report suggests three priority actions for the province to use the regional well-being framework as a policy tool to improve regional development outcomes:

  • Ensure that well-being indicators guide future decision-making. In light of the agglomerations’ performance, the primary objective should be to mainstream the well-being metrics across all levels of government, notably at the provincial level, to inform and guide decision-making. Well-being indicators can indeed help the provincial administration set regional development objectives that are measurable, define multidimensional well-being indicators to manage complementarities across policies, redesign public investment priorities, and link existing social programmes with well-being outcomes.

  • Continue strengthening and modernising the provincial statistical system to expand the evidence-base. The 2018 Well-being Survey has provided a major source of new data for the four agglomerations in the province of Córdoba. Moving forward, the Well-being Survey could expand its geographical scope to secondary cities and rural areas through alternative and less costly methods. For instance, the use of administrative registers has great potential to expand the availability of data for selected well-being dimensions, while the ongoing open data agenda can enhance trust in and accountability of the provincial government.

  • Strengthen governance arrangements for more effective, efficient and inclusive regional development policy outcomes. For instance, a single register of social programmes’ beneficiaries could help improve the effectiveness in programme implementation and further enhance cooperation between the provincial and municipal governments to better target the most disadvantaged population groups. Lastly, the results show that municipalities within metropolitan areas usually face similar types of challenges and would benefit from greater inter-municipal cooperation and metropolitan governance to achieve economies of scale and deliver services more efficiently to improve well-being outcomes.


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Executive summary