The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an economic organization that promotes capitalism and democracy throughout the world. Its Better Life Index for 2014 measures 11 categories of well-being: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. The recently released 2014 version of the report provides information about quality of life in numerous countries and offers key data on both positive and negative aspects of life, health, and well-being.
How’s Life in the United States?
The 2014 Better Life Index compares quality of life in 36 countries, all of which are industrialized and highly developed. OECD’s analysis of life in the United States found that Americans score relatively high on many measures of well-being. Key data points from the research include:
- 90% of Americans say they know at least one person on whom they could rely in a time of need.
- U.S. students score 492—slightly lower than the average of 497—on the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, which measures reading, math, and science literacy. On average, girls outperform boys on this measure by nine points.
- Voter turnout for major elections in the U.S. is 67%, slightly lower than the international average of 72%. Turnout is higher among wealthy economic classes, and lower for the bottom 20% of the population.
- 75% of Americans say they have more positive than negative experiences in an average day.
- On most measures of gender inequality, including jobs and health, the U.S. ranks worse than most other countries. The highest American gender inequality rankings in the survey relate to jobs. For example, women face more job insecurity in the U.S. than they do in most other surveyed countries.
- Americans spend more time at work and less time with family and leisure activities than residents of most other countries, ranking 33 out of 36 for time devoted to personal activities. This ongoing challenge with work-life balance touches every aspect of American life, undermining people’s ability to spend time with their families and reducing their options for relaxing,learning new skills, and cultivatingand maintaining social relationships.
- The average dwelling offers 2.3 rooms per person, and 99.9% of Americans live in a home with private access to a toilet—a higher figure than the international average of 97.9%.
If you’re interested in a specific measure of well-being, OECD offers an interactive tool that allows you to measure quality of life in your home country according to your own values.
- How’s life? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/
- OECD Better Life Index. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/united-states/
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