The Better Life Index

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Would you swap sunny Spain for a country with sub-zero temperatures and snow? Incredibly, three of the five best places in the world to live suffer from both, and only one rivals Spain’s sunshine record, according to the OECD Better Life Index.

There are scores of indexes out there, ranking countries in different ways. GDP is generally a big part of the equation but it doesn’t tell the whole story. As US politician Bobby Kennedy said, back in 1968, “GDP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, the joy of their play, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

The Better Life Index, launched by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2011, maps quality of life by wellbeing, not GDP. As the website says, ‘It’s where best to live for the matters that concern us.’

Interactive graphs allow users to compare 38 countries of the developed world through 11 dimensions of well-being including housing and health, education and environment, community and civic engagement, work-life balance and life satisfaction.

Each dimension has its own indicators; for example, ‘income’ takes taxes and household earnings from pensions and investments into account, while the ‘jobs’ category measures unemployment and working conditions as well as pay scale.

Currently, the BLI top 10 is dominated by the Nordic countries with their advanced social democracies, while Spain only comes midway through the rankings in 19th place – sunshine isn’t everything – with France a nudge ahead at 18th, the UK at 16th and Germany in 12th…

Words Belinda Beckett

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