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News : Global Economy Last Updated: May 24, 2011 - 5:16 PM

OECD launches 'Your Better Life Index'
By Finfacts Team
May 24, 2011 - 2:57 PM

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The OECD today unveiled a new, interactive better life index that will let people measure and compare their lives in a way that goes beyond traditional GDP numbers.

Called Your Better Life Index, the tool is part of a larger OECD Better Life Initiative that aims to measure well-being and progress. The index allows citizens to compare lives across 34 countries, based on 11 dimensions -- housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety, work-life balance -- giving their own weight to each of the dimensions.

“This index encapsulates the OECD at 50, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and understanding in a pioneering and innovative manner,” said OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría. “People around the world have wanted to go beyond GDP for some time. This index is designed for them. It has extraordinary potential to help us deliver better policies for better lives.”

The index is being launched as part of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Forum and Ministerial celebrations in Paris, known as “OECD Week.”

Created in 1961 to succeed the Marshall Plan and promote economic cooperation and growth, the OECD has become the house of best practices in public policies.

The OECD’s 50th Anniversary Forum and Ministerial Council meetings, (24-26 May in Paris) bring together world leaders, policy makers and stakeholders from OECD countries and emerging economies to discuss issues such as: new sources of economic growth and jobs; gender equity; rising food and energy prices; and global development.


Based on data prior to the full impact of the economic crash, Ireland performs very well in overall well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top ten countries in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Ireland, the average household earned $24,312 in 2008, more than the OECD average .

In terms of employment, nearly 60% of people aged 15 to 64 in Ireland have a paid job. People in Ireland work 1549 hours a year, less than in other OECD countries. 51% of mothers are employed after their children begin school, suggesting that women encounter difficulties when balancing family and career.

Having a good education is an important requisite to finding a job. In Ireland, 69% of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school diploma, close to the OECD average. As to the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 496 out of 600 in reading ability according to the latest PISA student-assessment programme, close to the OECD average.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 80 years, slightly above the OECD average. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 13 micrograms per cubic meter, and is lower than levels found in most OECD countries.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a very strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Ireland. 97% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens' participation in the political process, was 67% during recent elections; this figure is lower than the OECD average of 72%. In regards to crime, 3% of people reported falling victim to assault over the previous 12 months.

In more recent times, voter trust has been lower and participation in the 2011 election has been higher.

When asked, 73% of people in Ireland said they were satisfied with their life, above the OECD average of 59%.

Examples of country specific information from Your Better Life Index

The Paris based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is a think-tank for 34 mainly developed countries. OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Commission takes part in the work of the OECD.

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© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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