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Better Life Index methodology

Over the last decade there has been a drive globally to move away from purely economic measures, such as GDP, as the indicators of a nation’s well-being and progress. Approaches which draw on social and environmental, as well as economic, factors are now a common international objective.

In this context, a widely-used framework is the “Better Life Index” developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD is an international organisation, comprising 38 member countries and several partners, which has the mission of promoting policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

As well as presenting an overall headline measure, this framework enables comparison of Jersey with OECD member countries and partners in terms of 11 topics (“dimensions”) relating to material conditions and quality of life. 

National level methodology

The framework for the OECD Better Life Index considers data in 11 “dimensions” of well-being. 

Across all 11 dimensions, there were six OECD indicators not used due to a lack of comparable data currently available for Jersey; these indicators were: “household net financial wealth” in the income dimension; “labour market insecurity” in the jobs and earnings dimension; “student skills” and “years in education” in the education and skills dimension; “stakeholder engagement for developing regulations” in the civic engagement dimension; and “time devoted to leisure and personal care” in the work-life balance dimension. These indicators were not used in calculating the scores presented in this report; hence, scores published here may vary slightly compared to those published by the OECD.

The overall Better Life Index for each jurisdiction is calculated as follows:
  • for each indicator, a normalised score is calculated  - see step a) below
  • for each dimension, a normalised score is calculated as the unweighted arithmetic mean of the normalised scores of the indicators comprising the dimension – see step b) 
  • finally, the Better Life Index is calculated as the unweighted arithmetic mean of all 11 dimension scores – see step c) 

For each jurisdiction, the indicator-level normalised scores are calculated relative to all OECD countries on a scale of between 0 (low) and 1 (high), through the following approach:

a) for an indicator with a positive tendency (high value implying “good”), the normalised score for each jurisdiction is calculated from the maximum (MAX) and minimum (MIN) values of the OECD countries as:

​Normalised score =
Jurisdiction  -  OECD MIN


for an indicator with a negative tendency (high value implying “poor”), the normalised score for each jurisdiction is calculated as:

​Normalised score = 1 -​
Jurisdiction  -  OECD MIN


b) for each of the 11 dimensions, a normalised score on a scale of between 0 (low) and 10 (high) is calculated as: 

the unweighted arithmetic mean of (10 times the normalised score for each indicator comprising the dimension)

c) the overall composite Better Life Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 10 as the unweighted arithmetic mean of the normalised scores (0 to 10) of the 11 dimensions.

Regional level methodology

The OECD defines regions as the first tier of sub-national government (for example, states in the USA, provinces in Canada, or “régions” in France).

Reflecting the national-level methodology, the regional well-being measure also considers data in the 11 dimensions (“dimensions”) comprising the OECD Better Life Index. The indicators within each dimension at the regional level are predominantly the same as those at the national-level. However, the work-life balance dimension at the national level is replaced by an access to services dimension at the regional level, the indicator for which is the percentage of households accessing broadband. See below for more detail on the differences between the national- and regional-level indicators.

Following the OECD regional-level methodology, Jersey’s performance may be compared under each dimension with that of regions across the OECD and an overall regional well-being score constructed.

All scores calculated for each region are relative measures, calculated following a similar approach to that applied at the national level. However, due to considerable variations in some countries at a regional level, the OECD applies thresholds to eliminate extreme values, defined as below the 4th percentile and above the 96th percentile. In the case of homicide rate, since several regions across the OECD have a very high value, the cut-offs are the 10th and 90th percentiles, respectively. This approach is adopted in order to obtain well-being scores that are more evenly distributed and avoids cases where (as in the case of homicides rate) almost all regions would be scored at between 9 and 10.

To determine the overall measure of regional well-being, normalised scores are calculated for each indicator which are then averaged (arithmetic mean, unweighted) to provide a score for the relevant dimension. Some regions of the OECD do not have data for all indicators; for these regions, the average score of the indicators that are available is used. The dimension scores are then averaged (arithmetic mean, unweighted) to give the overall regional well-being score.

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