How's Life? 2013 - A Well-Being Report from The OECD

The OECD, or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is an organisation set up to improve economic and social policies around the world. Their publication How’s Life? 2013 is a report on the well-being of inhabitants in 36 countries based on data collected within a framework of 11 dimensions:

  • Housing
  • Income and wealth
  • Jobs and earnings
  • Social connections
  • Education and skills
  • Environmental quality
  • Civic engagement and governance
  • Health status
  • Subjective well-being
  • Personal security
  • Work-life balance

Well-being in the Workplace

It seems that How’s Life? 2013 - The 60-second guide puts a lot of emphasis on well-being in the workplace, because we spend the majority of our daily lives at work. Factors such as work pressure, workplace relationships and job security all contribute to a person’s feeling of well-being at work, and can have a great effect on one’s health. According to the report, however, a negative trend has emerged in the area of employment for many of the countries involved:

“Employment and labour market conditions have deteriorated markedly as measured by higher long-term unemployment, involuntary part-time work and the number of discouraged workers and inactive people.”

Is this surprising though considering the effects of an international economic crisis? Another unsurprising but unfortunate fact which has come out of this report is that women still earn less than men across the board. The average hourly wage of a woman is 16% less than that of a man, with the stats ranging from a difference of under 10% in Mexico, Hungary and New Zealand, to a wapping gap of 30% in Korea.

So, how did Britain fair?

According to the report, the UK is a ‘middle-performer’ along with Germany, Japan, Poland, Italy and many others. ‘Top performers’ included Australia, the United States and Switzerland; while Greece, Mexico and Turkey among others were placed at the lower end as ‘bottom performers’. However, we did do very well in some areas. The UK has achieved an above-average ranking in 9 of the 11 dimensions, including jobs and earnings, income and wealth, health status and subjective well-being; but a below average result in education and skills, in comparison to the other OECD countries.

The country snap-shot for the UK states that in 2010, “18% of British workers reported being in a poor working environment”. “Poor Management Practices” and “High Work Pressure” were the biggest offenders in causing British workers to report poor working conditions and a negative impact on their health. As regards to gender differences, men have a greater employment rate at 89% as opposed to a female employment rate of 82%. The wage gap is also +18% in favour of men, which is higher than the OECD average.

Do you think this is a fair assessment of life in the UK? What could we do to improve the low rankings in education and skills, reports of poor working conditions and gender differences?

The full report, How’s Life? 2013, is available here. You can also create your own Better Life Index as regards to your priorities on the site, and create a plan to improve your personal well-being.