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How’s Your Life and What Matters Most to You? Going Beyond GDP

2 June 2016
by Guest author

BLI InitiativeJulia Stockdale-Otarola, OECD Public Affairs and Communications Directorate

How do you judge your quality of life? What factors matter most to you?

Countries have long focused on GDP as the best proxy to measure well-being. However, governments are increasingly interested in subjective indicators for a more holistic understanding citizen well-being.

The OECD Better Life Index builds on the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission’s Report on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. This report examined how both wealth and social progress can be measured beyond the use of GDP. The interactive Better Life Index tool continues these efforts by examining both material and subjective indicators of well-being.

People are able to express what matters most to them based on the following 11 well-being dimensions:  housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. Participants can then share and compare their answers with people across 38 OECD member and non-member countries in 7 different languages.

Since its launch in 2011, the Better Life Index tool has received responses from more than 110 000 users from some 180 countries and territories. This year, the Better Life Index welcomed the inclusion of well-being data from Latvia and South Africa. The tool now includes all OECD member countries, as well as Brazil and the Russian Federation.

The OECD Better Life Index also provides pages with analysis at the country and dimension level, giving people an opportunity to examine rankings and find examples of “Better Policies for Better Lives”.

An examination of nearly 90 000 responses has found that health, education and life satisfaction are the topics that matter most in OECD countries. Regionally, education is highly valued in Latin America while work-life balance and life-satisfaction are more important to North Americans. Safety is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific. In Europe, health, community and the environment are all priorities.

Age and gender also impact what matters most to people. Men tend to assign more importance to income while women tend to value work-life balance and community. Environment, civic engagement and health gain importance later in the life cycle while life satisfaction and income are prioritised among youth.

To learn more and create your Better Life Index, visit:

Happy exploring!

Useful links

How’s Life? 2015: Measuring Well-being 

OECD Better Life Index

OECD Better Life Initiative

OECD Regional Well-Being

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