The OECD Better Life Index, in May 2011 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 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?"
History and methodology
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. It was designed by Berlin-based agency Raureif in collaboration with Moritz Stefaner. First published on 24 May 2011, it includes 11 "dimensions" of well-being:
- Housing: housing conditions and spendings (e.g. real estate pricing)
- Income: household income (after taxes and transfers) and net financial wealth
- Jobs: earnings, job security and unemployment
- Community: quality of social support network
- Education: education and what one gets out of it
- Environment: quality of environment (e.g. environmental health)
- Governance: involvement in democracy
- Life Satisfaction: level of happiness
- Safety: murder and assault rates
- Work-life balance
How's Life? offers a comprehensive picture of what makes up people's lives in 40 countries worldwide. The report assesses the above 11 specific aspects of life as part of the OECD's ongoing effort to devise new measures for assessing well-being that go beyond GDP.
New indicators and dimensions are planned 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 are planned to 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).
OECD Better Life Index for 2017.
Explained by: Housing
Explained by: Income
Explained by: Jobs
Explained by: Community
Explained by: Education
Explained by: Environment
Explained by: Civic engagement
Explained by: Health
Explained by: Life Satisfaction
Explained by: Safety
Explained by: Work-Life Balance
|Country||Housing||Income||Jobs||Community||Education||Environment||Civic engagement||Health||Life Satisfaction||Safety||Work-Life Balance|
From an econometric point of view, the Index seems similar to other efforts aimed at substituting or complementing the gross domestic product (GDP) measure by an econometric model for measuring happiness and well-being of the population. One major criticism is that the Better Life Index uses a limited subset of indicators used by other econometric models such as Gross National Well-being Index 2005, Sustainable Society Index of 2008, and Bhutan Gross National Happiness Index of 2012, and Social Progress Index of 2013. Observers argue that "the 11 dimensions still cannot fully capture what is truly important to a populace, such as social networks that sustain relationships, and freedom of speech." . Various critics have pointed out that the OECD's BLI does not include such dimensions as poverty, economic inequality, access to health insurance, pollution.
In 2012 OECD relaunched "with new indicators on inequality and gender plus rankings for Brazil and Russia. A couple have been removed too: Governance has been renamed civic engagement, employment rate of women with children has been replaced by the full integration of gender information in the employment data and students' cognitive skills (e.g. student skills in reading, math and sciences) has replaced students' reading skills to have a broader view."
Some argue that some of the criteria are vague and question the purpose of such measure, for example, they question, "what really constitutes ���environmental quality”? Can it result in population control policy to minimize damage to the environment? While others argue that the Better Life Index unlike the Gross National Happiness Index does not pay attention to religion. Critics also state that the Better Life Index ignores good family life, or moral formation.
Others have criticized its methodology such as the use of relative scores instead of absolute ones.
- Broad measures of economic progress
- Disability-adjusted life year
- Full cost accounting
- Green national product
- Green gross domestic product (Green GDP)
- Gender-related Development Index
- Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
- Global Peace Index
- Gross National Happiness
- Gross National Well-being (GNW)
- Happiness economics
- Happy Planet Index (HPI)
- Human Development Index (HDI)
- ISEW (Index of sustainable economic welfare)
- Progress (history)
- Progressive utilization theory
- Legatum Prosperity Index
- Leisure satisfaction
- Living planet index
- Law of Social Cycle
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- Money-rich, time-poor
- Subjective life satisfaction
- Where-to-be-born Index
- World Values Survey (WVS)
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