Sure, you might get richer, faster somewhere else, but will you be happy? OECD says GDP overweighted as a guide on where to put down stakes.

Sure, you might get richer, faster somewhere else, but will you be happy? OECD says GDP overweighted as a guide on where to put down stakes.

Happiness is a place of personal well-being: OECD

By Amanda Morrall

Australia may hold an economic advantage over New Zealand by measure of GDP and wages, but will it -- or anywhere else for that matter -- enrich your life?

According to the OECD, our undue focus on GDP misses the point.

The decision on where to build a life --a foregone conclusion for the bulk of the world's population it should be noted  -- needs to take into account  a ''compendium of well-being factors'' distilled by personal choice, the OECD suggests.

Accordingly, the OECD has come up with a multi-dimension better life index  to help the geographical daydreamer find their place under the sun. It uses 11 aspects of well-being, each with a five-star ranking system, to produce a comparative profile of nations tailored to individual preference.

The factors deemed to be essential to well-being in terms of material living conditions are housing, income and jobs. On the quality of life side, the inputs are community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

Money's not everything

In its introductory notes, the OECD notes that wealth as a singular measure of well-being is a faulty assumption.

"There’s been a lot of debate lately on measuring the well-being of societies – is wealth all that matters, or should we be looking at other things, like the balance between work and the rest of our lives?

The Index aims to involve citizens in this debate, and to empower them to become more informed and engaged in the policy-making process that shapes all our lives."

Each of the 11 topics is built on one to three specific indicators:

"For example, the Work-Life Balance topic is based on three separate measures: the number of employees working long hours; the percentage of working mothers; and the time people devote to leisure and personal activities."

The OECD says it plans on further enhancing the index by factoring in sustainability of well-being, over time.

The data used to build the better life index is derived from official sources such as the OECD or National Accounts, United Nations Statistics, National Statistics Offices. It also relies on data from public opinion polls put together by Gallup.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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34 Comments

Wages are definitely not the only factor to achieve happiness. There are plenty of far more important things in life. That said, financial hardship is unlikely to make people happy (and aren't financial problems one of the main causes for divorce?).

I reckon the best position to be in is to have skills that are in demand. Then not only can you get paid well but work on your terms. Ie, you don't have to sacrifice family/hobbies or work/money - you can actually have both, and it's fantastic.

Enjoy.... Elley ...good for you..........and don't forget to find things to laugh about....like your husbands prize trout....

:) Aside from my husband's questionable fishing skills, trust the little ones to give us our recommended daily dose of laughter!

And don't worry, we do enjoy. There is not a single day that goes by without us being aware of just how very lucky we are in every department of life. Not many mums and dads get to both be at home everyday with their young kids while still having great careers and earning the incomes that go with that, not to mention we are healthy and live in a beautiful country. You're not about to hear me complaining about my life that's for sure!

{ : > )     

Wow, such a positive person, let's hope it rubs off on all those who bang on carping about things and full of woe that's often expressed on the site.

Agree....ive been in situations where my skills despite being good were not wanted or not wanted enough unless "cheap" in that situation I realised I was screwed staying doing what I was and re-train myself....Ive never looked back....and I cant be threatened my CV will get me as good a job here or in OZ...

regards

Elley - agreed.

But financial hardship is usually folk digging a hole too big, based on unrealistic expectations. I wonder if those kind of brains were already in trouble right there, bit hard working out which is cause and which is effect.

i wonder if they took into account the happiness of the thousands of young nz'ers that have left for aussie so far for better pay and working conditions?

The problem with an index such as this is the weightings. Is environment more important than community, or life expectancy? etc

Saying that, I agree with the general idea.

 Happy people are wealthy.

Wealthy people are happy.

..and the clear winner is ??

Er....um....aaaahh....people..?

The Miami " Heat " are the clear winners ?

hey...no fair ........I didn't understand the question.

Wealthy =happy,Happy == wealthy?

 

really?
 

Maybe we`re not talking about money,then I could see some wisdom,otherwise don`t expect there`s anymore wealthy happy people ,than "poor" wealthy people.

I can see where your coming from, lol.... but too much does bring un-wanted problems.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/secret-fears-of-the-...

 

A fellow I have been lucky to sit in front of, Dr Ron Ware, did a PhD on Longevity. Four keys he lists are Nutrition, Excercise, Spirituality and Meditation. A wealth of wisdom in that lot, but money doesn't get a mention at all:)

 

Dr Ron probably didn't because he can take that for granted

Ahhh, no.

Most of his subjects were not from the western world, which seems to be your frame of reference.

FYI his criteria for inclusion in his studay was 80+, full eyesight and hearing plus fully mobile and sexually active. Oldest couple 110&111. 

120+ is the generally accepted upper end, with some saying 135+ as the potential.

Don't know about you Muzza, but I have laid the foundation. Pretty hard in this toxic society though.

I would agree. Money, as a result, may by the happy byproduct but if not, you've got the other stuff to stay grounded, feel and look good.:)

Does your massive shoe collection make you feel happier , and keep you  grounded  and looking good , " Imelda " Morrall ? ....... Tell that to the OECD !

"In New Zealand, the average household wealth is estimated at 16 131 USD, lower than the OECD average of 36 808 USD. .. the ideal measure of household wealth should include real assets (e.g. land and dwellings)"

Given a third of NZ households own their own homes without a mortgage, even if we assume the improbable that everyone else had zero net wealth, then the average net wealth of all housholds would be a third of the average house price or about $130,000 NZ or about $US100,000.  Stats NZ produce this kind of data anyway, so why should we pay any attention to OECD calculations if they can't even compile the most basic data?

Not all wealthy people are happy. There have been some pretty bloody miserable rich people. And I have known some people who would be considered poor but who were very happy anyway.

Re Chris J's calculation:

Perhaps the OECD considers most of the mortgagors to be in negative equity?  Or more likely the definition of wealth they're using excludes residential property.

No Conrad.  The OECD define wealth to include land and buildings (as I noted in my comment).

Your point about negative equity is ridiculous and not worth rebutting. 

Clearly (as per usual) these OECD reports (like most compliled data of this nature) contains so many inaccuarcies that they are unreliable and meaningless.

 The perfect, happy and wealthy - 8 wire winter guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vThcK-idm0

Quick..take a look...Treasury bloats are heaving themselves up onto the bandwagon...they can at least detect the end of the era in which they were regarded as the most important bunch of Humphreys in wgtn...nearly 5 billion dollars a year they consume...very poor productivity results!...just look at the economy....and in an effort to ward off the swinging axe cutting off the axemans head it's time for them to change costumes...off with the numbers cloak and on with the 'well-being overalls'...greater scope for more and bigger bullshit.

 "Treasury is making a move towards measuring the happiness of Kiwis in a bid to improve its policy advice to the Government and respond to its critics."  herald

humbug

Money can't buy you happiness..but it sure as heck buys you a lot better brand of unhappiness !

Rob - I dunno about that. I've always worked to live, and valued my time. After all, it's the only time I'll get.

While my contemporaries tapped into the system, I adventured (see the Neville Peak book "The Tasman"), sailed, flew my hang-gliders high, far and wide, pitched into the community we settled into.

Oddly enough, I looked around in middle age, and most of them are on their second bimbo/second tribe of brats, paunched, stressed-looking, and when you add up what they're worth cashed-up, they don't seem to be 'ahead'. I suspect they are spending it on the first set of brats, and on gifts-to-self-to-make-self-feel-better. I can't think of a one I'd change places with. Can't think of a one who is healthier in a fitness sense, either.

Fear of Peer insecurity, I suspect, is one of the reasons folk who chase wealth are never satisfied.

Well put. Your contribution was almost as inspiring at the Banff International Film Fest (a visual showcase of high-on life adventurers.:)

Perspective PDK and your nose for irony, are a coupla the things that seem to keep you healthy......

long may it continue.

Perspective tends to go yellow in the sun, so I use glass these days. And I wear my clothes as they come off the line - crumpled.

go well    :)

Well said powerdownkiwi, perhaps this is where Dr Ware's last two factors mentioned above (Spirituality and meditation) fit in?

In my experience the common link between the happiest people I know is an interest in non-material things, be it organised religion or more informal spirituality. Conversely those most obsessed with 'keeping up with the Joneses' tend to be the least happiest people I know. After all any happiness that comes from having the flashest car on the block can only lat until one of the neighbours buys something shinier.

 

Dunno about the religion part, but most of the scientists and researchers I know (amateur and professional) seem happiest when they are engaged in science and research.

Their interests and work is often derided as not being practical or "down to Earth" by those who think owning the biggest house or flashest car or fastest boat is more important than anything else in the world.

Yes, I didn't really mean to stress the religious side of things (I'm not particularly religious myself). Having a focus on non-material things or abstract ideas seems to me to give the same sense of purpose/meaning as the religious folks enjoy.