How was life in 1820, and how has it improved since then? What are the long-term trends in global well-being? Views on social progress since the Industrial Revolution are largely based on historical national accounting in the tradition of Kuznets and Maddison. But trends in real GDP per capita may not fully reflect changes in other dimensions of well-being such as life expectancy, education, personal security or gender inequality. Looking at these indicators usually reveals a more equal world than the picture given by incomes alone, but has this always been the case? The new report How Was Life? aims to fill this gap. It presents the first systematic evidence on long-term trends in global well-being since 1820 for 25 major countries and 8 regions in the world covering more than 80% of the world’s population. It not only shows the data but also discusses the underlying sources and their limitations, pays attention to country averages and inequality, and pinpoints avenues for further research.
The How Was Life? report is the product of collaboration between the OECD, the OECD Development Centre and the CLIO-INFRA project. It represents the culmination of work by a group of economic historians to systematically chart long-term changes in the dimensions of global well-being and inequality, making use of the most recent research carried out within the discipline. The historical evidence reviewed in the report is organised around 10 different dimensions of well-being that mirror those used by the OECD in its well-being report How’s Life? (www.oecd.org/howslife), and draw on the best sources and expertise currently available for historical perspectives in this field. These dimensions are:per capita GDP, real wages, educational attainment, life expectancy, height, personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, income inequality and gender inequality.
This paper uses data from the American Life Panel to understand the determinants of well-being in the United States during the Great Recession. It investigates how various dimensions of subjective well-being reflected in the OECD Better Life Framework impact subjective well-being.
Statistics Working Paper N. 58 - 2014/3 - This paper presents a set of indicators of income inequality and poverty across and within regions for 28 OECD countries. These indicators were produced through a new household-level data collection based on internationally harmonized income definitions undertaken as part of the OECD project on “Measuring regional and local well-being for policymaking”.
Uruguay has made remarkable progress over the past decade. Stable macroeconomic policies and a favourable external environment have permitted brisk growth and the financing of social policies. Substantial improvements in several dimensions of human well-being have occurred during this period, alongside considerable reductions in external risks. The conditions ahead, however, may present challenges to maintaining performance. Overcoming these challenges will require finding the appropriate balance between long run objectives and macroeconomic and fiscal stability.
One of the main obstacles to economic growth is the insufficient and inadequate provision of human capital and skills. A number of challenges remain for education, which, together with fiscal policy, are key means of reducing inequalities and sustaining economic growth. In addition, Uruguay needs to address labour shortages to avoid constraints on future growth, especially as exports become more skills-intensive. It is important to orient social policies and expenditures towards the most vulnerable groups.
The project "Benefits and Wages" addresses the complicated interactions of tax and benefit systems for different family types and labour market situations and their impact on household incomes and financial work incentives.
This paper presents new information on trends in family and child outcomes and policies over the past decades, in order to assess whether there has been any convergence over time across OECD and EU countries. Important drivers of population structure such as life expectancy and fertility rates are becoming more similar across countries as are marriage and divorce rates.
Life expectancy, air quality, safety and other indicators of well-being can vary dramatically within countries, depending on which region you live in. Looking beyond national averages is vital to get an accurate picture of quality of life and to guide local government policy.
Statistics Working Paper N. 56 - 2014/1 - This paper compares long-run levels of real income growth at the very top, and for the bottom 90% and bottom 99% in the United States, Canada and Australia to illustrate the uniqueness of the post-WWII period of balanced growth (and consequent stability in the income distribution).
The enduring idea that the rising tide of economic growth lifts all boats is no longer a universal truth. In the US, even before the Great Recession, the poorest were steadily losing ground. Between 2000 and 2012 the average disposable income of the bottom 10% in the US fell by 14%, underlined the OECD Secretary-General.
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The most effective policy tool kit to address high inequalities and to extend opportunities is one that combines education and job training measures, policies to boost job creation, and reforms to make the tax and benefit system and public services more efficient.