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 components: current well-being, inequalities in well-being outcomes, and resources for future well-being.
The Knowledge Exchange Platform on Well-being Metrics and Policy Practice (KEP) provides a space for sharing experiences and solutions across countries on the development and policy application of well-being frameworks and associated metrics and tools.
Through the KEP, the OECD is building an In Practice repository of country well-being initiatives to provide examples of well-being measurement, tools and implementation, and the application of a well-being perspective to specific policy issues such as child well-being or mental health.
As part of the KEP, there will be dedicated Knowledge Exchange Workshops to help foster peer learning, watch this space for more information coming soon on the workshops.
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.
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:
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 and continues to develop 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 health inequalities
For more information on our ongoing work, please contact [email protected].
Our How’s Life? country notes look at whether life is getting better for people, the planet and future generations amidst the challenges of today’s world.
These country notes are updated on a regular basis based on the How’s Life? Well-being database. Our most recent update of the country profiles was in February 2024.
Working Papers and Policy Papers on Well-being and Inequalities
This series features working papers on the measurement agenda for well-being, inclusion, sustainability and equal opportunity as well as policy papers seeking to deepen the understanding of the drivers of these issues, the ways in which they interact and how they evolve.
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