6th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy: The Future of Well-Being

For well over a decade, the OECD World Forums on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy have been pushing forward the boundaries of well-being measurement and policy. By bringing together thousands of leaders, experts and practitioners from all sectors of society, the Forums have contributed to an ongoing paradigm shift that emphasises people’s well-being and inclusive growth as the ultimate focus for policies and collective action. The years since the first OECD World Forum in 2004 have seen huge advances in our ability to measure the aspects of people’s lives that matter for inclusive and sustainable well-being, and to strengthen the link between statistics, knowledge and policy for better lives. However, while we now have a much more sophisticated grasp of what metrics and actions are needed to foster well-being today, we know much less about how the drivers of well-being will be transformed in the coming years. The aim of this 6th OECD World Forum, is to look ahead to the Future of Well-being, and to ask what are the trends that will re-shape people’s lives in the decades to come?

The future of well-being in a complex, interconnected world

The world we live in today is more connected, and yet more fragmented than ever. Online networks flourish, but as well as bringing people together they also engender political polarisation, “fake news” and distrust between groups. Rising inequalities have become a fact of life, with the gaps between the “haves” and the “have nots” growing ever wider, and spanning multiple dimensions of well-being. And many of the most pressing well-being challenges facing governments around the world – including climate change, mass migration, and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals – demand increased international cooperation at a time when nationalist and separatist ideologies are gaining traction in many countries.

Looking to the future, it is likely that these issues of complexity and interconnectedness will continue to define society in increasingly unpredictable ways.  Ensuring inclusive growth and well-being in this new landscape will require policy makers and actors from across society to think and act creatively, anticipating new risks and opportunities, and opening up to new approaches and new forms of partnership and collaboration across sectors.

Focus on digitalisation, governance and business

The 6th OECD World Forum will take a broad perspective to addressing the future of well-being, but will put a particular emphasis on three important trends – the digital transformation, the changing role of governance,  and the emergence of the private sector as an important actor for ensuring sustainable and inclusive well-being – as well as looking at the interplay of these three factors. As always, the Forum will showcase innovations and experiences from pioneers in well-being measurement and policy from around the world, but will explore the issues from a much more forward-looking perspective. By taking a wide-ranging approach to consider how life will be in tomorrow’s world, it will aim to map a plan of action for people, government and businesses today.


Confirmed speakers include OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, Statistics Korea Commissioner Hwang Soo-kyeong, Nobel Prize winner and economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations, and many other global leaders.

Interested in attending?

Visit our website to find more info on registration, the venue, and other FAQs.

Take a look at our detailed programme.

Contact us if you would like to attend.

Third International Conference on Well-Being and Public Policy

When: Wednesday 5 – Friday 7 September, 2018

Where: Wellington, New Zealand

Hosted by: Victoria University of Wellington, the New Zealand Treasury and the International Journal of Wellbeing

Call for Papers:

Submit your paper abstract before 30 April 2018. Submission should include author’s full name and affiliation, paper’s title and a short abstract – no longer than 250 words. For more info see here:

About the conference: 

This third in the series of international conferences on Wellbeing and Public Policy will (1) critically evaluate the rapidly expanding field of wellbeing research across a range of disciplines; (2) share the work of leading international organisations; and (3) distil ideas and practices which will aid governments in developing a wellbeing approach to public policy. For more info, visit the conference website here

Conference themes:

  1. Wellbeing and inequality
  2. Culture, indigeneity and wellbeing (incorporating Māoriwellbeing)
  3. Wellbeing, hope and perceptions of the future
  4. Sustainability, capital stocks and wellbeing
  5. Children’s wellbeing
  6. Wellbeing, utilitarianism and the capabilities approach  
  7. Technology and wellbeing
  8. Wellbeing – cause or effect?
  9. Wellbeing: policy and practice

Timeline (2018):

  1. Monday 30th April: Abstracts due
  2. Monday 21st May: Acceptance notification by email
  3. Monday 25th June: Early bird registration due
  4. Monday 30th July: Full registration due
  5. Wednesday 5th  – 7th September: Day registration

General conference questions?


Assessing networked risks through the measurement of Social Capital – first lessons from the World Social Capital Monitor

This post has been contributed by Alexander Dill of the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics

Can trust, solidarity, helpfulness and friendliness have an impact on economic outcomes by lowering the costs for externalities such as security, peace and environmental damage? If the answer is yes, these supposedly ‘soft’ social goods should be given more attention.

The intuitive importance of the concept of “social capital” has long been recognised, but efforts to define and measure it have been less successful. In 1999, then Chief Economist of the World Bank, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz launched the Social Capital Initiative (with contributions from two other Nobel laureates: Amartya Sen and Elinor Ostrom), which led to a detailed 27-page household questionnaire being administered in a number of countries, but the complexity of the concept continued to be an obstacle to the meaningful application of results to policy and programme interventions.

So which are the aspects of social capital that should be made a priority for measurement? Social capital can be seen as relationships and social networks within groups (‘bonding’ social capital) or as social relationships, values and perceptions across ethnical, political and religious groups, also known as ‘bridging’ social capital. Bridging social capital can be seen to underpin such concepts as trust, solidarity and friendliness, and it is these phenomena which could be the most valuable to underpin the functioning of democratic, stable and resilient societies. More trusting and cooperative societies are likely to have to spend less on transaction costs and externalities.
This is why the World Social Capital Monitor started measuring eight indicators of bridging Social Capital in 36 languages and 141 countries, that serve to assess networked risks and to lowering the costs of externalities. Now the social climate, the willingness to co-finance public goods by austerity measures and taxes, the willingness to invest in local cooperatives and SME, trust, helpfulness, friendliness and hospitality can be locally scored on a ladder between 10 (high/excellent) and 1 (low/poor). You can test it yourself by scoring your town on on any Smartphone, PC or tablet.

From former surveys e.g. on trust by the WHO in 2012 (deviation 2.41 on the same ladder) we could expect a high deviation. But the deviation given by the Trust Your Place survey was much lower. In Cambodia the citizens of 18 provinces only differed by 1.5 points on average when they scored their bridging Social Capital. The poorest province of Kandal had better scores than the capital Phnom Penh. To better understand the Global distribution of Social Capital we may have a look at a comparison of interpersonal trust in four countries.

Dill Blog Image

Source: Social Capital Assessment, Basel Institute of Commons and Economics, 2012/2016

In Japan, high societal trust allowed to recover after the double disasters of the earthquake and Fukushima in 2012. The Basel Institute therefore published the results to argue against a downgrade of Japan in rating. In Ukraine in 2012 however, interpersonal trust was entirely down – and ended in the decline of economy and society in 2014 and the loss of Crimea and Donbass. At the time most of the analysts published positive outlooks on Ukraine and saw the country to becoming a candidate for the EU.

In Afghanistan trust with a score of 4.95 is the worst of the eight indicators of Social Capital but at the same level as in many Western countries.
So the level of trust can indicate high political and economic risks (Ukraine) as well as societal stability (Japan, Cambodia) and a promising base for reconciliation in a country being in war for decades (Afghanistan).

Related links

Basel Institute of Commons and Economics

Wiki article on ‘Social Capital’

Canadians’ wellbeing lagging far behind economic recovery, new report shows



TORONTO, Ont. (Tuesday, November 22, 2016) – Although Canada’s economy has recovered from the 2008 recession, our wellbeing has not, according to a new report from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), based at the University of Waterloo.

“The 2008 recession stole our leisure time, our volunteer time, our living standards and our sleep – and we never got them back,” said Bryan Smale, director of the CIW. “There is a massive gap between how well the economy is doing and Canadians’ wellbeing, and that gap grew during the recession.”

In 2008, the gap between GDP and the CIW was 21 per cent. By 2010 it was 24.5 per cent. By 2014 had grown to 28.1 per cent.

The CIW tracks 64 indicators to provide a comprehensive analysis of eight domains of vital importance to our quality of life. While economic data are part of the model to capture changes in living standards, the CIW also reports on fluctuations in community vitality, democratic engagement, leisure and culture, education, environment, healthy populations and time use.

The 2016 national report analyzes data from 1994 to 2014 to provide a startling view of wellbeing’s overall evolution over the period as well as its components.

The report shatters the myth that economic growth translates into wellbeing. In some areas, such as Leisure and Culture and the Environment, we are worse off than we were in 1994.
Specific findings include:

• Living standards rose 23 per cent from 1994 until the 2008 recession, then plummeted almost 11 per cent. Now, despite an increase in median family incomes, more Canadians experience food and housing insecurity and employment is more precarious.

• Leisure and Culture is down 9 per cent. In 2014, household spending on culture and recreation was at its lowest point in the two decades measured. Canadians are spending less time away on vacation and participating or volunteering in leisure and cultural activities.

• Environmental progress declined by 2.9 per cent. Although residential energy use is down 20 per cent, there should be much more progress from industry.

• The time crunch is an ongoing challenge. We are spending almost 30 per cent less time with our friends. Our commute times to work are longer and only 35 per cent of us are getting enough sleep – down from 44 per cent in 1994.

• Life expectancy is up and ratings for mental health are slightly better, but Canadians’ overall health ratings are worse. Diabetes rates are two and half times higher than in 1994 and more than one in five people has a health or activity limitation.

• Education is the only domain to keep pace with GDP. Nine out of 10 students now complete high school; and by 2014, 28 per cent of Canadians held a university degree. Still, rising tuition fees and access to regulated child-care spaces remain important challenges.

• Community Vitality is strong but volunteering fell by 15% after the recession. Two in three Canadians have a strong sense of community belonging. People feel safer in their neighbourhoods and help one another. Yet, volunteering was a victim of the recession.

• Although voter turnout increased recently, barely one-third of Canadians in 2014 expressed a high degree of confidence in Parliament – down 14 per cent since 2003.

“When we shift to innovative, proactive solutions that consider more than one domain of our lives at the same time, we will start to see positive change that will enhance Canadian’s daily lives in the areas that matter most,” said Smale. “The report is a call to action to adopt wellbeing as a measure that is as important as GDP.”

The CIW regularly reports on the quality of life of Canadians at the national, provincial and local levels, and advocates for social change that reflects our values and places wellbeing at the heart of policy.


About the University of Waterloo
University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students we are home to the world’s largest co-operative education system of its kind. Our unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. Find out more at

Knowledge for a better world – the International Panel on Social Progress

International Panel on Social Progress
International Panel on Social Progress

How can social sciences and the humanities help in achieving better societies for all? This question is at the heart of the International Panel on Social Progress, an ambitious undertaking aiming to bring together the knowledge of hundreds of experts in order to set out the state of the art on how to foster social progress  – and they want to hear from you too.

The word ‘progress’ sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s certainly a difficult time to argue that social, economic and environmental trends inevitably move in a positive direction, and it’s also easy to find examples where development and modernization processes have brought about a deterioration rather than improvement in well-being for many people and the planet. It’s clear that social progress – understood as the sustainable and equitable improvement in well-being of all people – is not an automatic process. However, this only further underlines the importance of efforts to use evidence and knowledge to support positive social change. This is the philosophy behind Wikiprogress, and is also the driving force of the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP), an ambitious initiative to take stock of the leading-edge of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities to assess what contributions they can make to shape a better, more just world.

Since 2015, the IPSP is bringing together almost 300 experts from every region in the world, and representing all social science disciplines and perspectives, to provide an interdisciplinary and cutting-edge view of the options available to achieve more sustainable and equitable social progress. Initiated by the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and Princeton University, the IPSP will cover the full range of economic, political and cultural issues facing societies today including democracy, poverty and inequalities, globalization, work, migration, public and corporate governance, global and environmental risks, health, conflict, religion, education, integration and diversity.

Modeled in part on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPSP will also necessarily be quite different. Firstly, it has not been commissioned by governments, but is peer-led by scholars themselves. The work is being guided by a Steering Committee and a Scientific Council of leading international scholars, and supported by an Honorary Advisory Committee headed by Nobel-prize winner Amartya Sen. Secondly, given the role of values and normative frameworks in shaping social science discourse, the Panel will not aim to produce a definitive ‘consensus’ on the right way to move forward, but will aim to be transparent about the different options available when consensus is not possible.

The ultimate outcome of the IPSP’s work will be a comprehensive report to be published in 2018 addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers who can play a part in fostering social progress. It is hoped that the report will also encourage and guide further research in areas where it is needed.  The first drafts of many of the chapters are now completed, and between now and the end of the year, everyone with an interest in the issue of social progress is encouraged to read the report and provide comments. There are also other ways you can get involved in this process, such as taking part in the discussion forums or answering a survey on how you see different aspects of social progress. This is an exciting and potentially hugely influential initiative, and we encourage you to take part however you can!

How you can be part of the International Panel on Social Progress

Download the outline of the report

Read the chapters of the report and contribute your comments

Join in the discussion forums

Take a short survey on aspects of social progress

Costa Rica tops the Happy Planet Index for the third time

Photo credit:   Beth Rankin

Karen Jeffrey is a researcher at the new economics foundation (nef). This blog was previously published under the title “This is the most efficient economy in the world” on the nef blog.

The 2016 Happy Planet Index (HPI) results are in. For the fourth time, we’ve ranked countries all over the world based on how efficiently their residents are able to live long, happy lives right now, and in the future.

Still, no country has been able to achieve the ultimate goal of long lives and high wellbeing for all within sustainable ecological limits. In fact, the results challenge the conventional wisdom that wealth equates to delivering a successful economy, and offer valuable insights into the policies that might deliver long, happy lives within environmental limits.

What is the Happy Planet Index?

The HPI is the leading measure of sustainable wellbeing. It combines four elements – wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint – to show how efficiently residents of different countries are using environmental resources to lead long, happy lives.

How’s it looking in the UK?

The UK places a disappointing 34th out of 140 countries. But it’s not the only wealthy nation that fails to place near the top of the rankings – no G8 economy appears in the top 30.

The UK performs relatively strongly on wellbeing and life expectancy on average and in terms of how equally the scores are distributed across the population. But like most other advanced economies, it is denied a place in the HPI‘s top 20, due to its high and unsustainable ecological footprint – a whopping 4.9 global hectares per capita. However, the UK still comes out ahead of France (44th) and Germany (49th), but behind Norway (12th) and Spain (15th).

The most efficient economy in the world is….

Costa Rica has topped the 2016 Happy Planet Index rankings for the third time. The tiny tropical nation is far ahead of the UK and beats many Western economies on sustainable wellbeing.

The overall results highlight success stories in Latin America and Asia Pacific, where residents enjoy relatively high and equally distributed life expectancy and wellbeing, while leaving a smaller ecological footprint than other more advanced economies.

What does success look like?

In Costa Rica, people are living longer, and are more satisfied with life than people living in the USA – although there is slightly higher inequality in how these outcomes are distributed within the population of Costa Rica. What really sets the country apart is that it manages to combine long, happy lives with an environmental impact that’s little more than one third of the size of the USA’s.

So what’s the secret to Costa Rica’s success?

Since abolishing its army in 1949, Costa Rica has reallocated its defence budget to funding education, health and pensions.  The culture of forming solid social networks of friends, families and neighbourhoods is another factor that’s contributing to Costa Rican’s high wellbeing.

Costa Rica is also a world leader when it comes to environmental protection. 99% of electricity used there comes from renewable sources and the government is far ahead of many wealthier nations, having committed the country to becoming carbon neutral by 2021.

While Costa Rica’s commitment to environmental sustainability is impressive, it still has some way to go before its Ecological Footprint of 2.8 global hectares per capita reaches the sustainable level of 1.7 global hectares per capita.

Like every nation, Costa Rica has more work to do to reach the ultimate goal of truly sustainable wellbeing. But its success, scoring top place on the HPI, demonstrates that there are alternatives to the development paths that have been followed in the West. It provides a shining example of a country that is well on its way to creating good lives that don’t cost the Earth.

To explore the full results, or to find out more about the other high-ranking countries visit



Welcome to the New Wikiprogress

On Friday 2nd October 2015, Wikiprogress was re-launched on a new, improved platform. The address stayed the same, but the site now has a different look with many new functions, making it easier to use and to add new content.

Why change?

Wikiprogress was launched in 2009, with the aim of collecting together the knowledge of the ‘beyond GDP’ community in one place, using the same model (and software) as Wikipedia. With all of your help, over the last six years, Wikiprogress has grown and grown: it currently consists of over 2000 articles, and receives an average of approximately 20,000 visitors per month.

However, as the site has got bigger, it has got more and more difficult for users to find the information they need. It has also become clear that the ‘Wikipedia’-approach is not the most effective way to manage the content shared by the community. While encyclopaedia-style articles work well for explaining terms and definitions related to progress, in fact the bulk of articles on Wikiprogress in recent years describe concrete projects and outputs (initiatives, reports, data, events, etc.) undertaken by organisations in the Wikiprogress community.

It has become clear that Wikiprogress needs to adapt to continue to make the most of your contributions.

What will be different?

First of all, let’s start with what will be the same:

  • The new site will still be a ‘wiki’  in that it will remain an open-source, collaborative endeavour, and the majority of content on the site will be crowdsourced.
  • We are migrating all existing content to the new site, so none of your hard work over the years will be lost. We have only deleted a few articles which seem clearly out of date, or which do not fit in with the scope of the site (e.g. commercial product placement).
  • It will also still be possible to create Wikipedia-style ‘articles’ (although the process of adding or editing pages with be much simpler).
  • It will also still be possible to visit an archived version of the old site for some time (although it will no longer be updated) at this link: http://vs-std-wiki-prod-1/

However, we are re-organising the logic of the site, and are introducing the use of templates for any content related to:

  • Organisations
  • Initiatives (i.e. the different projects undertaken by Organisations)
  • Resources (i.e. the different outputs of the projects)
    •  E.g. Data, Reports, Websites, etc.

The intention is that this will being more consistency to the way information is stored in Wikiprogress, making it easier for users to search/browse for information, and to add content.

One important feature of the new site is that it will be much easier to share and access data files.  This will replace the old Wikiprogress.Stat section of the website. Please note that if you have embedded data from Wikiprogress.Stat in your site, this will no longer be updated. The data portal that we developed in beta and launched last August as part of the Web-COSI project has also been integrated into the site and will no longer exist on a separate platform.

We have already started to migrate some relevant content from the ‘Article’ format to the more easily searchable templates, but this will be an ongoing task over the coming months. We encourage you to visit the new site, explore, and test it out.


The Progblog will be integrated into the new site, in the Blog section (where you are currently reading this post). If you are a subscriber to the blog, you will be able to find all the content here, and you will continue to receive alerts when a new blog is posted.  If you would like to follow future blog posts via the RSS feed, this is the correct link:

Will I need to register again for the new site?

You will not need to register again, but you will have to update your password. When the new site was launched, you should have received an email with an automatically generated password for you to change. If you did not receive this email, please contact and we will help you to re-register.

We are very excited about this new phase in Wikiprogress’s existence, and we hope you will be too! We are so grateful for all the contributions you have all made to Wikiprogress over the years, and we hope that these changes will make the job of contributing information about your activities to the site much easier!


Visualizing Well-being Data Visualization Contest: Meet the Winners

We hosted a data visualization contest as part of the EC-funded Web-COSI project that ran during the summer with the deadline on August 24th. The challenge was to create a data visualization that communicated key statistics about well-being and sustainability to a broad audience.  The contest was open to anyone, but there was a specific prize reserved for a winner under the age of 26. The submissions were judged on their clarity and rigour, concept, and originality. 

We would like to thank everyone who entered the Wikiprogress “Visualizing Well-being” Data Viz Contest over the summer. We received so many entries of high quality and we are delighted to be announcing the winners, who will be joining us at the 5th OECD World Forum in Guadalajara next month. The contest was held as part of the Web-COSI  project, which aims to improve people’s engagement with statistics beyond GDP. We particularly wanted to encourage young people to participate and offered a special prize for under 26-year olds. In the end, two of the winners were under 26 at the time of the competition and one had just turned 26!

The entries were judged with respect to clarity, concept and originality by our expert jury consisting of Kim Rees, Stefanie Posavec and Moritz Stefaner. The jury was very pleased with the diversity and inventiveness of the applications. The goal of the contest was to use creativity to communicate key statistics about well-being and sustainability to a broad audience.

To see more information about the winning entries, please head over to the winner’s page on Wikiprogress.

The Winners:
Click on their names to view their full submission on Wikiprogress

Andrew Mollica
Scattered Well-Being

According to Andrew, his “visualization shows how varied well-being measures can be within a country and consequently how country-wide statistics can over-simplify. While it’s convenient to characterize whole populations by talking about national averages, we are often masking a lot of important complexity. This visualization attempts to make understanding this complexity approachable by allowing users to view the overall distribution of different well-being indexes as well as let them focus on a particular area.”

Fidel Tomet
Seeking A Better Life

According to Fidel, his visualization “takes a look at what people say is most important to them in life and how this reflects in their choice for a new home. It thereby also raises the question how other aspects, like distance, language and immigration laws, affect the decision.”

Alice Feng
Access to Higher Education is Not Equal

According to Alice, the concept she is trying to show is, “that although young adults in developed countries have generally become increasingly well-educated over time, when we take a closer look at the family backgrounds of those young adults, we see that children of less educated parents are under-represented relative to children of highly educated parents.  Indeed, most college students come from already privileged backgrounds; children of parents with at most a secondary education are much less likely to enroll in higher education.  Since higher levels of education are linked with greater earnings and better economic outcomes, this situation perpetuates inequality.”

The winners of the contest will receive a free trip to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the OECD 5th World Forum in October. If you are interested in following the discussions at the 5th World Forum, you can watch via live webcast on the official website during 13-15 October.

A huge thank you to our judges and to all of the contestants who sent in their work. We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received, and the standard was very high in terms of design and originality.


Last chance to win a trip to Mexico in our data viz contest: Helpful tips

The deadline for our data viz contest is August 24th
This blog post offers some helpful tips for those interested in submitting a creation to the contest. There will be three winners of the contest and winners will receive a free trip to Guadalajara, Mexico for the OECD 5th World Forum.  

We are in the home stretch of our data viz competition! Don’t panic! If you haven’t started your submission yet, you still have plenty of time to do so.  Even if you have never done data viz before, we strongly encourage you to apply! Don’t let the “data” part intimidate you; all you need is a good imagination and strong communication skills!

The main goal of this contest is for you to use numbers to tell a story about well-being in the world today.  By well-being we mean anything that is important for people to have a happy, fulfilled and productive life.  Well-being is a broad and subjective topic, so we don’t expect you to cover everything.

We suggest picking one or more themes to focus on, as long as they relate to people’s current or future well-being.

  • Examples of these include: education, happiness, health, peace, poverty, work, environment, or freedom.
  • The choice of topics is up to you, as long as you can find reliable statistics to help you tell your story!

Since well-being and sustainability are such broad topics, we understand that it can be hard to know where to start.  We have some suggestions to help you narrow things down and pick your topic.

  • Pick a country or state. Look for different statistics that give a broad picture of people’s lives and well-being.  See example:
Copyright: Landesa

  •  Pick a theme (such as poverty or health) and select statistics that help to give insight into that topic in a country, or across a group of countries.   See, for example, the OECD Better Life Index or the UN Sustainable Development Goals for some inspiration of key topics related to well-being and sustainability.

  • Pick a group to focus on (like children or the elderly) and find statistics that can help you to tell a story about well-being within that group or between different groups (e.g. by gender) Example: 
Copyright: Landesa

As the main goal is to tell a story using statistics and pictures, we suggest producing a static infographic that could view well as a poster or a 1-pager in a newspaper. If you are more experienced, then you can chose to create a more complex visualization requiring more processing of the data and/or technical development, such as an interactive visualisation.