OECD Forum 2012: Better Life
While GDP remains an important indicator for measuring the economy, it is not sufficient for measuring quality of life and well-being. As noted long ago by Robert F. Kennedy “GDP measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.” So what makes life worthwhile? What counts? What indicators are able to capture the reality of people’s lives, their priorities and aspirations in an increasingly complex, globalised world?
Research and analysis of statistical data have always been central to achieving the OECD’s mission of developing better policies for better lives. Indeed, for nearly ten years, the OECD has been working to identify ways to measure the progress of societies - moving beyond GDP and examining the areas that impact people’s lives. It is in this context that the OECD launched the Better Life Index (BLI). This Index allows citizens to compare well-being across countries according to their individual priorities based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential to the quality of life. These are: income and wealth; jobs and earnings; housing; health status; work and life balance; education and skills; social connections; civic engagement and governance; environmental quality; personal security; and subjective well-being.
During the 2012 Forum, the OECD will present BLI 2.0, integrating new measures on sustainability, gender and inequality; and extending the geographical coverage by including additional countries: Brazil and Russia.
Developing better measures is not an end in itself but a means to enhance policies that improve people’s lives. What we choose to measure is important because it represents to a great extent our vision of the future we aspire to. Hence, the question of measuring progress and well-being concerns all stakeholders - governments, business, civil society, and the engaged citizen - and it requires their active involvement in the debate.