www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org), an interactive website that aims to involve citizens in the debate about what a better life means to them.

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How's Life? 2013

Measuring Well-being

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Published on November 05, 2013

Also available in: French, Korean


Every person aspires to a good life. But what does “a good or a better life” mean? The second edition of How’s Life? provides an update on  the most important aspects that shape people’s lives and well-being: income, jobs, housing, health, work-life balance, education, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment, personal security and subjective well-being. It paints a comprehensive picture of well-being in OECD countries and other major economies, by looking at people’s material living conditions and quality of life across the population. Through a wide range of comparable well-being indicators, the report shows that countries perform differently in the various dimensions of well-being. For instance, low-income countries in the OECD area tend to do very well in subjective well-being and work-life balance, while their level of material well-being is much lower than that of other OECD countries. The report responds to the needs of citizens for better information on well-being and the needs of policy makers to give a more accurate picture of societal progress.

In addition, the report contains in-depth studies of four key cross-cutting issues in well-being that are particularly relevant. First, this report analyses how well-being has changed during the global economic and financial crisis. Even though some effects of the crisis may become visible only in the long-term, the report finds that the Great Recession has large implications for both economic and non-economic well-being of households. Secondly, the report  looks at gender differences in well-being, showing that the traditional gender gap in favour of men has reduced but has not disappeared. It also finds that women and men do well in different areas of well-being and that they are increasingly sharing tasks and roles. Third, it looks at the quality of employment and well-being in the workplace. The report presents evidence on the main factors that drive people’s commitment at work and are key to strengthening  their capacity to cope with demanding jobs. Finally, the last chapter of the report studies the links between current and future well-being. It looks at ways to define and measure sustainability of wellbeing over time.

How’s Life? is part of the OECD Better Life Initiative, launched by the Organization on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary in 2011. The OECD Better Life Initiative aims to promote “Better Policies for Better Lives”, in line with the OECD’s overarching mission. One of the other pillars of the OECD Better Life Initiative is the Better Life Index (www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org), an interactive composite index of well-being that aims at involving citizens in the debate on societal progress.

SUMMARIESavailable in 7 languages

English How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in English)
French How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in French) Comment va la vie ? 2013. Mesurer le bien-être
Spanish How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in Spanish) ¿Cómo es la vida? 2013. Medición del bienestar
German How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in German) How's Life? 2013. Wohlergehen messen
Japanese How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in Japanese) How’s Life? 幸福度の測定
Portuguese How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in Portuguese) Como está a vida? 2013. Medir o bem-estar
Russian How's Life? 2013. Measuring Well-being (Summary in Russian) Как жизнь? 2013. Показатель благосостояния


Editorial: Focusing on people
Reader's guide
Executive summary
The OECD Better Life Initiative : Concepts and indicators
How's Life? at a Glance
Well‑being and the global financial crisis
Gender differences in well‑being: Can women and men have it all?
Well‑being in the workplace: Measuring job quality
Measuring the sustainability of well‑being over time
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Key findings by country

These country notes present selected findings from the How’s Life? report, and show what users of the Better Life Index in specific countries are telling us about their well-being priorities.


find out more

How's Life? 2013, the 60-second guide (PDF)

OECD report measures human cost of crisis; underlines need to invest in well-being (news release)

OECD Better Life Initiative


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