What Is a Better Life? OECD’s Better Life Index Explores Quality of Life

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This article presents the Better Life Index, a platform created by the OECD that compares the well-being priorities of people around the world.

Initially launched in 2011 and having catered to more than 100,000 people from 180 countries since then, the Better Life Index asks participants about 11 topics dealing with living conditions and quality of life—including housing, jobs, work-life balance, income, health, safety, education, community, civic engagement, environment and life satisfaction. 

More than revealing a quantitative analysis of quality of life across the globe, the data in the Better Life Index also reveal stories about the different environments, struggles and accomplishments of individuals and communities around the world. In Australia, for example, the OECD Better Life Index reveals that nearly 14% of employees in Australia work long hours, which can affect other areas of well-being such as health and relationships. This has led to work-life balance as being indicated as the greatest concern in Australia—and therefore in order to increase quality of life, focus must be placed on policies that support a more stable work-life balance.

On a more general scale, the Better Life Index also reveals inequalities between people from different socioeconomic spheres, such as how inequalities in the well-being of adults often transforms into inequalities for their children

Ultimately, the platform demonstrates how policy is becoming an increasingly collaborative process—a fact that bodes well for the future of well-being. Through collaboration, policymakers can work in conjunction with people from all sectors to scale solutions for quality of life in truly profound ways while also focusing on the individual issues of each region. It is only in this way that we will be able to tackle the world’s greatest challenges in quality of life and unleash a new era of well-being for all.

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Create your Better Life Index

Go to the profile of Virginie Carvalhosa Martins

Virginie Carvalhosa Martins

Public Affairs and Communication Trainee, OECD


Go to the profile of Peter Kraneveld
Peter Kraneveld about 2 months ago

Compliments for the idea and execution. I use the better life index in the courses I give. Two quick comments. 

First, the web page is hard to find, especially if you are surfing with only a vague idea in mind and don't remember its exact title. As it touches on the core of the mandate of OECD, it deserves a prominent place on the OECD home page and a host of tags to show up in searches of the uninitiated. 

Second, users should have the opportunity to add outside elements like average days of sunshine, land use (forest, water, mountains etc.), or density of population that they consider important to judge the quality of life but don't figure in the OECD's remit.

Go to the profile of Virginie Carvalhosa Martins
Virginie Carvalhosa Martins about 2 months ago

Thanks a lot for your valuable comments! Great to hear that you are using the Index in your courses! The idea to give Index users the possibility to add additional elements is extremely interesting and something we’ve been exploring since the start of the initiative. Nevertheless, it has proven difficult as often data do not exist for all the countries or are difficult to compare- for example, climate is something that already varies a lot across regions in some countries, not to mention other difficulties.Giving users the possibility to add their own data might help us overcome these constraints. We will definitely give some thoughts to the idea and welcome you to contact us at bli@oecd.org to discuss further.