This blog by Romina Boarini, from the Monitoring
Well-being and Progress Division of the OECD introduces the latest Better
Life Index, version 4.0.
As discussions of the Post-2015 Agenda move forward, it becomes
increasingly clear that this Agenda seeks to promote a new vision of
development and well-being that puts people and the planet at the forefront.
TheOECD Better Life Initiative, launched in 2011,
builds on this same premise. Its aim is to change the life of millions of
people around the world by focusing on what really matters to them. In so
doing, it offers one vision of what a Data Revolution might aim to achieve.
The OECD initiative enacts a twofold revolution. It not only
measures new well-being dimensions that have long been neglected in policy (for
instance social connectedness or subjective well-being), but also measures them
in a new way, by asking people directly how much these dimensions matter to
As part of this initiative, the OECD designed theBetter Life Index(BLI). The Better Life Index,
celebrating its fourth birthday in May, allows people to see how their country
is doing in a number of topics that matter to them, including: community, jobs,
education, environment, housing, income, civic engagement, health, safety, life
satisfaction and work-life balance. Users can rate these topics according to
their priorities, and can then visualise how countries perform according to
their personal view of what makes a better life. They can also see whether
their country is actually delivering on the topics that they consider as
important. Users can share their ratings with their networks but also with the
OECD, and for the first time this year, these ratings can be visualised on a
new dedicated page.
The BLI 4.0’s new visualisation brings together the responses
people have shared with the OECD from countries around world. This
visualisation is not just a fancy new feature but also another way of
empowering citizens by creating collective awareness of what matters to society
as a whole. Visitors to the BLI can learn about what goes on in their country
but also what citizens think about what should happen next.
So far around 60 000 people from all over the world have shared
their responses. Obviously these responses cannot be considered as
representatives of each individual country, both because the samples are still
small and include voluntary submissions only. However, we have done some
statistical analysis to address some of these limitations and this analysis has
highlighted three interesting messages.
First, people seem to put more value on the topics on which they
are doing well, individually or in the country where they live. For instance,
people give more importance to health when they are satisfied with their health
or when health conditions in their country are very good. Another interesting
example is work-life balance. People rate work-life balance more highly when
they are satisfied with their work-life balance but also when they live in
countries where work-life balance is on average better (e.g. low working hours,
greater leisure time).
Second, the only notable exception to a positive relationship
between what people value and how they already do is income. People living in
higher-income countries or who are very satisfied with their personal situation
in terms of income are those who, in fact, tend to value income aslessimportant.
Third, people living in countries with high levels of income
inequality, tend to increasingly value jobs and civic engagement, whereas
people living in countries with low levels of income inequality value
environment, health, safety and housing more.
How to interpret these results? The first result tells us that
societal preferences may play a key role for shaping good lives. However, it
probably also tells us that achieved well-being outcomes become important
“acquired rights” that people want to defend. The second result resonates well
with the motto “money does not buy happiness” although, according to our evidence,
it would be better rephrased as “money buys only some happiness”. The third
result tells us that people in high inequality countries may see jobs as an
effective way to reduce disparities and they would consider political
participation and engagement as an important means to that end.
Create your own Better Life Index and tell us what your
priorities are for a better life! Click here.