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China’s new leadership has signalled that it is time to step up the pace of reform, building on the remarkable economic and social achievements to date while recognising the pressing need for deep structural changes. Indeed, far-reaching reforms are necessary for continuing to raise living standards and well-being, even as China is poised to become the world’s largest economy by around 2016.
The OECD has taken a major step forward in measuring how we feel about our lives. Newly released Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being establish the first comprehensive framework for internationally comparable and intellectually robust data on this topic.
Being able to measure people’s quality of life is fundamental when assessing the progress of societies. There is now widespread acknowledgement that measuring subjective well-being is an essential part of measuring quality of life alongside other social and economic dimensions. As a first step to improving the measures of quality of life, the OECD has produced Guidelines which provide advice on the collection and use of measures of subjective well-being. These Guidelines have been produced as part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, a pioneering project launched in 2011, with the objective to measure society’s progress across eleven domains of well-being, ranging from jobs, health and housing, through to civic engagement and the environment.
These Guidelines represent the first attempt to provide international recommendations on collecting, publishing, and analysing subjective well-being data. They provide guidance on collecting information on people's evaluations and experiences of life, as well as on collecting “eudaimonic” measures of psychological well-being. The Guidelines also outline why measures of subjective well-being are relevant for monitoring and policy making, and why national statistical agencies have a critical role to play in enhancing the usefulness of existing measures. They identify the best approaches for measuring, in a reliable and consistent way, the various dimensions of subjective well-being, and provide guidance for reporting on such measures. The Guidelines also include a number of prototype survey modules on subjective well-being that national and international agencies can use in their surveys.
Governments have a tough enough job delivering on the economy, and ensuring that their country can provide education and health systems that work, essential services such as water and electricity, not to mention roads, railways and clean air – can we really expect them to make us happy too?
Equality between the sexes has come a long way in the past 50 years or so, and in some areas (life expectancy, education) women are now ahead of men in many countries. So why do we still need an international women’s day?
We all want to come out of the crisis with a more sustainable economic system that delivers better lives for everyone, but just what is the right policy recipe to deliver the quality jobs and investment, trust and transparency, and effective regulation that we need?
The global economy is not out of the woods yet, and 2013 is a critical year if we are to leave the crisis behind and create more sustainable growth and employment. Easy to say – but what is being done, and what more can be done, to make it happen?
Gender equality is a necessity, not an option if we are to move on from the economic and financial crisis to create more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies around the world. So what are we waiting for?
November marks the 50th anniversary of the OECD Observer, an award-winning public magazine which addresses the policy challenges of our times. Flicking through the issues, from 1962 to today, is like taking a trip through modern history.
The financial and economic crises have highlighted the need for change in the way our governments and systems operate. But the real question is what changes will deliver inclusive, open and responsible governance that can reduce inequality and promote economic growth.