OECD Better Life Initiative

For more than 10 years, the OECD has been looking beyond the ­functioning of the economic system to the diverse experiences and living ­conditions of people and households. Measuring well-being and progress is a key priority that the OECD is pursuing through research, dissemination of existing data via the OECD

Better Life Initiative and key events such as the OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy”. The website provides background information on three streams of work being led by the OECD Statistics Directorate in the area of the measurement of well-being. The measuring well-being agenda calls for improved and new statistical measures, aimed at filling the gap between standard economic statistics (which are mainly focused on measuring the volume of market activity and related macro-economic statistics) and indicators that have a more direct bearing on people's life. Work on the latter aspect can be grouped under the three conceptual pillars of the OECD Measuring Progress Framework:

Material conditions measuring people's material conditions (i.e. their command over commodities) requires looking not only at their income but also at their assets and consumption expenditures, and at how these economic resources are distributed among different people and population groups. It also requires focusing on the economic resources of households rather than on measures pertaining to the economic system as a whole (e.g. GDP per capita). The OECD is working in different directions such as: measuring disparities in national accounts; measuring services produced by households for their own use; exploring the differences between growth in real GDP per capita and real household income per capita; and undertaking an integrated analysis of microdata on household income, expenditures and wealth.

Quality of life Economic resources, while important, are not all that matters for people's well-being. Health, human contact, education, environmental quality, civic engagement, governance, security and free time are all fundamental to our quality of life, as are people's subjective experiences of life, i.e. their feelings and evaluations. Measuring quality of life requires looking at all of these elements as a whole: economic and non-economic, subjective and objective as well as at disparities across population groups. The OECD is working to further develop its guidelines on the measurement of subjective well-being, it is measuring job quality and it is looking at what the notions of inclusive growth mean for well-being.

Sustainability of well-being over time can be assessed by looking at the set of key economic, environmental, social and human assets transmitted from current to future generations, and how these assets are affected by today's actions, policies and behaviours. The OECD is working to develop metrics that better capture whether the broad notion of economic, natural, social and human capital are sustainable.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value