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Wellbeing and happiness in OECD countries

  • Greg Coombs

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)

Registered author(s):

    GDP per capita is the most commonly used measure of a country’s economic success, yet it is frequently criticised as a guide to a nation’s wellbeing. A recently released study by the OECD considers some alternatives. The OECD uses illustrative calculations to ‘extend’ GDP to include leisure time, the sharing of income within households and income distribution. A key result of the study is that cross-country ranking based on these indicators and GDP per capita are generally similar, giving support to the conclusion that GDP per capita can serve as a reasonable proxy of overall wellbeing. Also, the OECD researchers find that survey-based data on happiness and life satisfaction across OECD countries are only weakly related to levels of GDP per capita. This article briefly explores the findings of the OECD’s study, and reflects on some of the difficulties in attempting to develop other indicators of wellbeing.

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    File URL: http://archive.treasury.gov.au/documents/1107/PDF/02Wellbeing.pdf
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    Article provided by The Treasury, Australian Government in its journal Economic Roundup.

    Volume (Year): (2006)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 11-21

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    Handle: RePEc:tsy:journl:journl_tsy_er_2006_2_2
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    1. Romina Boarini & Åsa Johansson & Marco Mira d'Ercole, 2006. "Alternative Measures of Well-Being," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 476, OECD Publishing.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," NBER Working Papers 8198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Romina Boarini & Åsa Johansson & Marco Mira d'Ercole, 2006. "Alternative Measures of Well-Being," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 33, OECD Publishing.
    4. Leigh, Andrew & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia is NOT a Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 5476, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. John Helliwell, 2005. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," NBER Working Papers 11807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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