OECD Better Life Index

The OECD Better Life Index, created in May 2011 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development following a decade of work on this issue, is a first attempt to bring together internationally comparable measures of well-being in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress also known as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission. The recommendations made by this Commission sought to address concerns that standard macroeconomic statistics like GDP failed to give a true account of people's current and future well-being.[1] The OECD Better Life Initiative includes two main elements: "Your Better Life Index" and "How's Life?"

History and methodologyEdit

Your Better Life Index (BLI),[2] launched in May 2011, is an interactive tool that allows people to compare countries' performances according to their own preferences in terms of what makes for a better life. It was designed by Berlin-based agency Raureif in collaboration with Moritz Stefaner. First published on 24 May 2011, it includes 11 "dimensions" of well-being:[3]

  1. Housing: housing conditions and spendings (e.g. real estate pricing)
  2. Income: household income (after taxes and transfers) and net financial wealth
  3. Jobs: earnings, job security and unemployment
  4. Community: quality of social support network
  5. Education: education and what one gets out of it
  6. Environment: quality of environment (e.g. environmental health)
  7. Governance: involvement in democracy
  8. Health
  9. Life Satisfaction: level of happiness
  10. Safety: murder and assault rates
  11. Work–life balance

Canberra has been ranked as the world's most liveable city according to the OECD Better Life Index for the second consecutive year, based on results published on 6 October 2014.[4][5][6]

How's Life?[7] offers a comprehensive picture of what makes up people's lives in 40 countries worldwide. The report assesses the above 11 specific aspects of life as part of the OECD's ongoing effort to devise new measures for assessing well-being that go beyond GDP.

New indicators and dimensions are planned be added to the Better Life Index in the future. For example, the Better Life Index was criticised for not showing inequalities in a society.[8] Future editions of the index are planned to take inequalities into account, by focusing on well-being achievements of specific groups of the population (women and men and low and high socio-economic status).


2020 rankingEdit

OECD Better Life Index for 2020.[9]

Rank Country
1   Norway
2   Australia
3   Iceland
4   Canada
5   Denmark
6    Switzerland
7   Netherlands
8   Sweden
9   Finland
10   United States
11   Luxembourg
12   New Zealand
13   Belgium
14   United Kingdom
15   Germany
16   Ireland
17   Austria
18   France
19   Spain
20   Slovenia
21   Estonia
22   Czech Republic
23   Israel
24   Italy
25   Japan
26   Slovak Republic
27   Poland
28   Lithuania
29   Portugal
30   South Korea
31   Hungary
32   Latvia
33   Russia
34   Chile
35   Brazil
36   Greece
37   Turkey
38   Colombia
39   Mexico
40   South Africa

2016 rankingEdit


  Explained by: Housing
  Explained by: Income
  Explained by: Jobs
  Explained by: Community
  Explained by: Education
  Explained by: Environment
  Explained by: Civic engagement
  Explained by: Health
  Explained by: Life Satisfaction
  Explained by: Safety
  Explained by: Work-Life Balance
Overall Rank
Country Housing Income Jobs Community Education Environment Civic engagement Health Life Satisfaction Safety Work-Life Balance
1   Norway
2   Australia
3   Denmark
4    Switzerland
5   Canada
6   Sweden
7   New Zealand
8   Finland
9   United States
10   Iceland
11   Netherlands
12   Germany
13   Luxembourg
14   Belgium
15   Austria
16   United Kingdom
17   Ireland
18   France
19   Spain
20   Slovenia
21   Czech Republic
22   Estonia
23   Japan
24   Slovakia
25   Italy
26   Israel
27   Poland
28   South Korea
29   Portugal
30   Latvia
31   Greece
32   Hungary
33   Russia
34   Chile
35   Brazil
36   Turkey
37   Mexico
38   South Africa


From an econometric point of view, the Index seems similar to other efforts aimed at substituting or complementing the gross domestic product (GDP) measure by an econometric model for measuring happiness and well-being of the population. One major criticism is that the Better Life Index uses a limited subset of indicators used by other econometric models such as Gross National Well-being Index 2005, Sustainable Society Index of 2008,[11] and Bhutan Gross National Happiness Index of 2012, and Social Progress Index of 2013. Observers argue that "the 11 dimensions still cannot fully capture what is truly important to a populace, such as social networks that sustain relationships, and freedom of speech.".[12] Various critics have pointed out that the OECD's BLI does not include such dimensions as poverty, economic inequality, access to health insurance and healthcare, environmental and air pollution.[13]

In 2012 OECD relaunched "with new indicators on inequality and gender plus rankings for Brazil and Russia. A couple have been removed too: Governance has been renamed civic engagement, employment rate of women with children has been replaced by the full integration of gender information in the employment data and students' cognitive skills (e.g. student skills in reading, math and sciences) has replaced students' reading skills to have a broader view."[14]

Some argue that some of the criteria are vague and question the purpose of such measure, for example, they question, "what really constitutes "environmental quality"? Can it result in population control policy to minimize damage to the environment? While others argue that the Better Life Index unlike the Gross National Happiness Index does not pay attention to religion. Critics also state that the Better Life Index ignores good family life, or moral formation.[15]

Others have criticized its methodology such as the use of relative scores instead of absolute ones.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (20 June 2012). "Rio+20 Kicks Off". The Progressive.
  2. ^ "OECD Better Life Index". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  3. ^ Marber, Peter. "Brave New Math". World Policy Journal (Spring 2012).
  4. ^ "OECD Better Life Index". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  5. ^ "Want an Easy Life? Try Canberra, Australia". The New York Times. October 7, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  6. ^ Hutchens, Gareth. "Canberra the best place to live, in the world's best country: OECD". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  7. ^ How's life? Measuring well-being. How's Life?. 2013. doi:10.1787/9789264201392-en. ISBN 9789264200746.
  8. ^ Baïetto, Thomas (May 25, 2011). "La difficile mesure du bien-être des populations". Retrieved April 29, 2018 – via Le Monde.
  9. ^ OECD Better Life Index for 2020
  10. ^ John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs. "2018 World Happiness Report" (PDF). Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  11. ^ "Data – All countries". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  12. ^ http://aea365.org/blog/susan-kistler-on-the-oecd-better-life-index/
  13. ^ Krason, Stephen (2 September 2014). "A "Better Life Index" that Ignores What Makes for a Better Life". Crisis. Retrieved 10 Feb 2018.
  14. ^ Rogers, Simon (May 22, 2012). "Better life: relaunching the happiness index". The Guadian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  15. ^ Krason, Stephen M. (September 2, 2014). "A "Better Life Index" that Ignores What Makes for a Better Life". Crisis magazine.
  16. ^ Kasparian, Jérôme; Rolland, Antoine (2012). "OECD's 'Better Life Index': Can any country be well ranked?". Journal of Applied Statistics. 39 (10): 2223–2230. doi:10.1080/02664763.2012.706265. S2CID 56123147.

External linksEdit