Measuring Well-being and Progress: Understanding the issue




“Measuring Progress of Societies, […] has become fundamental for ­development and policy-making in general. Improving the quality of our lives should be the ultimate target of public policies. But public policies can only deliver best fruit if they are based on reliable tools to measure the ­improvement they seek to produce in our lives.”

Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD 




Why measure well-being and progress?

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 of the past few years 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.


What is progress?

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 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



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