Measuring Well-being and Progress: Well-being Research


In recent years, concerns have emerged regarding the fact that macro-economic statistics, such as GDP, don't provide a sufficiently detailed picture of the living conditions that ordinary people experience. While these concerns were already evident during the years of strong growth and good economic performance that characterised the early part of the decade, the financial and economic crisis has further amplified them. Addressing these perceptions is of crucial importance for the credibility and accountability of public policies but also for the very functioning of democracy.

Societal progress is about improvements in the well-being of people and households. Assessing such progress requires looking not only at the functioning of the economic system but also at the diverse experiences and living conditions of people. The OECD Framework for Measuring Well-Being and Progress shown below is based on the recommendations made in 2009 by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress to which the OECD contributed significantly. It also reflects earlier OECD work and various national initiatives in the field. This Framework is built around three‌ distinct domains: material conditions, quality of life and sustainability, each with their relevant dimensions.

OECD Framework for measuring well-being and progress


Research and on-going work

Measuring well-being and progress is a key priority that the OECD is pursuing as part of the Better Life Initiative through various streams of research and on-going work described below.


Providing analysis

For well-being measures to start making a real difference to people’s lives, they have to be explicitly brought into the policy-making process.  Bridging the gap between well-being metrics and policy intervention is a challenge. Building on the OECD Framework for Measuring Well-Being and Progress, the OECD is advancing this agenda through various analytical work including: 



Developing better metrics

The measuring well-being agenda calls for new and improved statistical measures, aimed at filling the gap between standard macroeconomic statistics that sometimes are used as proxies of people’s welfare and indicators that have a more direct bearing on people's life. The OECD has developed a number of guidelines and frameworks to support those interested in developing better well-being metrics and is advancing the measurement agenda through various work shown below.



The OECD is also launching new projects to measure different aspects of well-being where available data are of low quality. These projects include:

  • Measuring trust in people
  • Measuring health inequalities
  • Measuring trust in institutions

For more information on our ongoing work, please contact


Further reading

OECD Well-being Working papers


Consult other well-being Working papers


Related work



Back to the Better Life Initiative


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