June 17, 2011

Data point: The OECD looks beyond GDP with Better Life Index

Posted by: in North America

Recently, we wrote about a groundswell of interest in happiness—the focus of everything from books and nonprofits to branding—including a drive by some governments to measure a different kind of progress than what’s reflected by GDP, such as the U.K.’s National Well-being Project. Recently, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) widened its mission to consider multiple factors beyond GDP, aiming to “redefine progress and well-being this century,” as the Financial Times reported.

To that end, the OECD’s new Better Life Index is an interactive tool that ranks the group’s 34 countries based on how much value the user gives to each of 11 factors, which include income, health, safety and work-life balance. Most of the information it’s based on comes from official sources, such as the OECD itself and the U.N.; some is based on Gallup World Poll findings. The chart we configured here shows the results if only income is considered. Luxembourg leads the way, with the highest estimated average household disposable income (US$44,212 a year), and the U.S. is second ($37,690); Turkey is at the bottom here ($11,081). While income is “an important means to achieving higher living standards and thus greater well-being,” as the OECD states, happiness is ultimately in the eye of the beholder.

Photo credit: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/

2 Responses to "Data point: The OECD looks beyond GDP with Better Life Index"

1 | R Stein

June 17th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

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I find it fascinating that organizations are looking beyond the bottom line to incorporate non-monetary factors into citizens’ happiness and well-being.

2 | Liam McClure

June 18th, 2011 at 11:33 am

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Hello,

Thank you for the interesting blog, I had not heard of OECD better life index before but I will have a look at it now, I thought you might be interested in having a look at a project I am currently working on –

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/humankindindex

I am currently working with Oxfam Scotland to try and change the way that a countries growth is measured in more than just GDP. With the hope that policy makers will pay attention to what is actually important to people. Rather than ask how happy people are we are trying to find out what enables them to live happy lives.

Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again.

Liam McClure

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