OECD Better Life Index
The OECD’s Better Life Initiative, launched in May 2011 following a decade of work on this issue, is a first attempt to bring together internationally comparable measures of well-being in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress also known as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission. The recommendations made by this Commission sought to address concerns that standard macroeconomic statistics like GDP failed to give a true account of people’s current and future well-being. The OECD Better Life Initiative includes two main elements: Your Better Life Index and How’s Life?
Your Better Life Index (BLI), launched in May 2011, is an interactive tool that allows people to compare countries’ performances according to their own preferences in terms of what makes for a better life. First published on 24 May 2011, it includes 11 "dimensions" of well-being: Housing, Income, Jobs, Community, Education, Environment, Governance, Health, Life Satisfaction, Safety, Work-Life Balance. Each topic is built using one to three specific indicators. In the case of Work-Life Balance, for example, three separate measures are considered: the number of employees working long hours; the percentage of working mothers; and the time people devote to leisure and personal activities. The BLI seeks to engage citizens in the discussion of what matters most in their lives and what governments should do to improve well-being.
How’s Life?, released by the OECD on 12 October 2011, offers a comprehensive picture of what makes up people’s lives in 40 countries worldwide. The report assesses 11 specific aspects of life – ranging from income, jobs and housing to health, education and the environment – as part of the OECD’s ongoing effort to devise new measures for assessing well-being that go beyond GDP.
New indicators and dimensions will be added to the Better Life Index in the future. For example, the Better Life Index was criticised for not showing inequalities in a society. Future editions of the Index will take inequalities into account, by focusing on well-being achievements of specific groups of the population (women and men and low and high socio-economic status).
To date, the Index has attracted over 800,000 visitors, and over 1.8 million page views from 184 countries and 32 territories (as defined by the UN). So far 27,314 user-created indexes have been shared through various channels and 6300 demographic surveys have been submitted to the OECD. As from May 2012, users’ results will be available on-line.
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