Once a week, the writers of Sound Economics meet to talk about our ideas for the blog. Recently, we came up with the idea to include a section that links to websites that we believe would be interesting to our audience.
Even more recently, I learned about from Kate Stirling in my Economics of Happiness Connections course about the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Better Life Index, which ranks its 38 member countries with a combination of 11 categories: Housing, Income, Jobs, Community, Education, Environment, Civic Engagement, Health, Life Satisfaction, Safety, and Work-Life Balance. These categories are each given a score from 0.0 to 10.0 and weighted against each other equally. Users can adjust the weighting of the categories to emphasize qualities they may find to be more important than others.
The OECD even breaks this down further in their Regional Well-Being, which uses the same methods as the Better Life Index, but on a more localized basis, such as specific states in the U.S, or provinces in other countries.
I believe measures such as these are terribly under-utilized and how we determine the health of a society. Granted, there needs to be more research into how to best quantify somewhat subjective ideas such as “Life Satisfaction,” but that doesn’t mean that measuring these things isn’t important. GDP, as valuable of a measure as it is, really only measures the amount of value produced by a country in a given year, yet because it such an established and widely-used unit of measure, economists and policy makers put such emphasis on increasing GDP, while possibly leaving out factors that also matter a lot to a society. “What gets measured, gets managed.”