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Better Life Index

August 14, 201314 August 2013

Arts indicators / Well-being / Social benefits

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Arguing that key economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product have “failed to capture many of the factors that influence people's lives”, this comparative international report attempts to provide “a better understanding of what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done to achieve greater progress for all”.

The report identifies 11 dimensions of well-being:

  • Civic engagement
  • Community
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Income
  • Jobs
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Safety
  • Work-Life Balance

The index is comprised of 24 indicators within these 11 dimensions. Only one of the indicators includes cultural elements. “Time devoted to leisure and personal care” by full-time employed people, within the work-life balance category, includes sleep time as well as a broad range of leisure activities. On this indicator, Canada ranks below the 34-country average. Full-time employed Canadians spend 14.25 hours per day on leisure and personal care, compared with the average of 14.87 hours. The definition of the leisure and personal time indicator specifies that: “Leisure includes a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities such as walking and hiking, sports, entertainment and cultural activities, socializing with friends and family, volunteering, taking a nap, playing games, watching television, using computers, recreational gardening, etc. Personal care activities include sleeping (but not taking a nap), eating and drinking, and other household or medical or personal services (hygiene, visits to the doctor, hairdresser, etc.) consumed by the respondent.”

The Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation, which developed the Better Life Index, did not assign overall rankings to countries. That being said, it is clear from the online graphics that Canada ranks very highly overall, as do countries such as Australia, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Canada fares particularly well regarding safety, housing, health, and income. Canada ranks relatively low on the work-life balance dimension, due in large part to the below-average ranking on time devoted to leisure and personal care.

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