Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)

How's life? 2013 - Measuring well-being



November 2013
ISBN 9789264201392
200 pages

Every person aspires to a good life. But what does “a good or a better life” mean? The second edition of How’s Life? paints a comprehensive picture of well-being in OECD countries and other major economies, by looking at people’s material living conditions and quality of life across the population. In addition, the report contains in-depth studies of four key cross-cutting issues in well-being that are particularly relevant: how has well-being evolved during the global economic and financial crisis?; how big are gender differences in well-being?; how can we assess well-being in the workplace?; and how to define and measure the sustainability of well-being over time?


Read the full book online


Read the book by chapter 

1. The OECD Better Life Initiative: Concepts and indicators

What drives people's and nations' well-being and where do countries need to improve to achieve greater progress for all? The OECD Better Life Initiative launched in 2011 addresses these questions by measuring well-being outcomes in 11 dimensions.

2. How's Life? at a glance


This chapter shows that OECD countries have made considerable progress in many well-being areas over the past 20 years or so, although progress has been uneven across the 11 dimensions included in the OECD Well-Being Framework. Similarly, there is great diversity in patterns amongst different countries as well as disparity in well-being achievements of different groups of the population within a country. 

3. Well-being and the global financial crisis


This chapter analyses how well-being has changed during the global economic and financial crisis. Even though some effects of the crisis may become visible only in the long-term, the report finds that the crisis has had large implications for some economic and non-economic aspects of people's well-being. Clear negative trends have emerged in subjective well-being and civic engagement, with increasing levels of stress, lower life satisfaction and decreasing trust in national governments. 

4. Gender differences in well-being: Can women and men have it all?


The chapter looks at gender differences in well-being, showing that the traditional gender gap in favour of men has narrowed but has not disappeared. It also finds that women and men do well in different areas of well-being and that they are increasingly sharing tasks and roles.

5. Well-being in the workplace: Measuring job quality


This chapter looks at the quality of employment and well-being in the workplace. The report presents evidence on the main factors that drive people's commitment at work and are key to strengthening their capacity to cope with demanding jobs. 

6. Measuring the sustainability of well-being over time


The last chapter of the report studies the links between current and future well-being. It looks at ways to define and measure sustainability of well-being over time. This chapter focuses on four types of resources (or "capital") that can be measured today, and that matter for future well-being: economic, natural, human, and social capital.


Media kit

Key findings by country

OECD report measures human cost of crisis; underlines need to invest in well-being (news release)

Launch of How's Life? 2013, presentation by Martine Durand, OECD Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate (PDF)

How's Life? 2013, the 60-second guide  (PDF)


Watch the video





How to obtain this publication?

Buy the PDF e-book or a printed copy
OlisNet for government officials with accounts
Accredited journalists



Previous edition

How's Life? Measuring Well-Being, 2011 Edition




For further information on the report, journalists are invited to contact Stephen Di Biasio in the OECD’s Media Division (tel: + 33 1 45 24 83 10) or Romina Boarini in the OECD’s Statistics Directorate  (tel. +33 1 45 24 92 91). For questions on measuring well-being and pregress contact the Statistics Directorate, Measuring well-being and progress Unit at



Link to the Better Life Index

Back to OECD Better Life Intiative


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