The OECD Regional Well-Being Report 2014

The OECD or, to give it its full title, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have been responsible for many surveys and reports in the past. I’ve featured quite a few on this website, including The World’s Happiest Country and The Best Country Better Life Index.

I think it would be foolish of me to allow 2015 to arrive without mentioning their latest report about regional well-being for 2014 which came out in October.

OECD Regional Well-Being

This particular report looks at these nine indicators…

topicsBeing about regional well-being means we can compare any one of the 8 Australian states or territories with the 12 regions and countries in the UK. Or any one of the 51 states in the USA.

So, for example, I can look at the indicators for where I have moved from in the UK, which is South East England

South East EnglandAnd compare it to where I have now moved to, which is Queensland


What does it tell me?

It tells me a few things I already knew, like I much prefer the environment in which I now live, there is just no comparison. Queensland gets the top score of 10 compared with 6.1. I also prefer my house here in Queensland, it’s simply much bigger and has more room around it and land than my old house back in South East England. That too is reflected in the 8.2 score of Queensland’s housing compared with 6.5.

I’m not surprised either that it tells me I had better access back in the UK’s South East than I have here, sounds right to me. Nor am I surprised that civil engagement here is much higher, because I know that’s to do with the percentage of people who vote and here in Australia voting is compulsory. So we can kind of ignore that one.

It also tells me some things I suspected which is that for my health, for jobs and for income, I’m better off here in Queensland than I was back in the South East of England, not by much, but by just a little bit.

Then there are a couple of things it tells me that I don’t particularly agree with, both Queensland and South East England score very highly for safety, I’m just surprised that South East England wins out on that particular head to head.

Similarly I’m much happier that my daughter Elizabeth is going through her schooling here in Australia, I just think the schools are much more enjoyable here for the children. She goes to school smiling every day and comes out still smiling.

She also appears to be getting a very good education and that’s good enough for me.

What about the USA?

I have only looked at one state in the USA, I decided to choose California simply because the weather is good, they have fantastic beaches and it’s a big state as well. Here are the indicators for California

CaliforniaOkay, so I’m not going to be moving to California any time soon, just take a look at that safety score. Good place to earn money though by the looks of things.

About the indicators

It’s when you look at how these indicators are calculated that some of the results start to make sense. For example, safety is simply to do with the homicide rate per 100,000 people. Education is simply the percentage share of the labour force with at least secondary education.

Here’s a chart explaining all the indicators…

IndicatorsI have read the user guide that goes with this report and they do say they are looking at ways of improving these indicators going forward. Whilst some of the indicators have a good solid basis, like income, jobs and housing, I think others could certainly do with those improvements.

That said, the website is full of interesting information that can be compared across 362 regions, so I strongly advise anybody interested in these kinds of comparisons to go over there and take a good look.

Have a good play around comparing wherever it is you are now to any place you think you might like to go to at any point in the future. It’s good fun and you will find heaps of information.

For example, you will get a full page worth of information on all of the indicators for a specific region once selected. No matter which region you are looking at, underneath each indicator you can compare the whole country with the other countries.

I looked at Greater London under the income indicator I clicked on “Compare United Kingdom to other countries” and the UK came 9th out of 34. But when it comes to concerns about inequalities across regions in the UK it came 25/33.

I then compared that to Australia and found it is ranked fourth out of 34 for income, but when it comes to concerns about inequalities across regions in this country, it came stone last, 33/33.

So whilst both of these countries have reasonably high incomes, you do have to live in the right area and it’s that kind of priceless information that makes this interactive website well worth a visit.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Valter Russo December 3, 2014, 6:48 am |

    Hi bob

    You think california is unsafe? not if you come from Australia’s Northern Territory.ahaha, watch your jaw there.
    Lisbon is not as bad as I imagined though.
    this is a cool indicator, easy to understand.

    Best regards
    Valter Russo

  • djmcbell December 2, 2014, 6:46 pm |

    Comparing where I live in the UK (Yorkshire and Humber) with where my parents live in Victoria, Australia (first figure mine, second theirs):

    Safety 8.9 8.9
    Housing 6.6 7.6
    Access to services 9.2 8.2
    Civic engagement 4.5 10
    Education 7.8 7.4
    Jobs 6.5 8.5
    Environment 6.6 9.2
    Income 4.6 6.4
    Health 6.6 9.4

    There are actually a few surprises here.

    I’m surprised safety is the same. Here we have had a fair few incidents recently (in the suburbs near me we’ve had a few stabbings and even a shooting), but I rarely hear anything from my parents. That said, that’s just the area near me (if it could drill down to just a city then it’d probably be a different story), and we also mustn’t forget that Victoria contains Melbourne – another city which doubtless has a few problems, as well as Geelong.

    Housing: well, you know the size of our houses and what “value” you get for your money. New homes do occasionally spring up boasting three bedrooms but they look TINY from the outside, sandwiched together on new estates. Of course, you can buy whatever you want in Australia for the right money.

    Access to services: in this case broadband access. It’s easy to get here in the UK as most places are close by, so the service providers can put a new node in and serve a heck of a lot of people.

    Civic engagement: isn’t voting mandatory in Australia? Either way, I think a lot of people here are just so disillusioned with politics that they don’t see a point in voting.

    Education (or amount of workforce with secondary education): I’m actually surprised at these figures for both here and Australia, I would have thought it’d be closer to 9 or 10. Go figure.

    Jobs: here in the UK we’re seeing the rise of “non-jobs” such as zero-hour contracts (where you’re employed but the employer doesn’t give you any contracted hours, just calls you when he needs you and expects you to be “on call” all the time, with no contracted pay or holiday days) and workfare (if you’re unemployed for a certain amount of time the government will send you to work somewhere for no pay for 6 months, or stop your benefit money). The figures are distorted because both of these are counted as employed, as well as various other schemes, and there has been a rise in unpaid apprenticeships. I wouldn’t trust the UK figure at all.

    Environment: level of air pollution. Yorkshire and Humber have a fair few cities (Leeds, York, Sheffield, Hull) and a fair number of cars on the road, but we do have some nice countryside. No comparison to Australia though, which simply oozes space.

    Income: our bills go up, our food prices go up, our petrol somehow is going down (go figure), yet our pay stays the same. For a lot of people it’s stayed the same for a good few years, or even been cut. I’m pretty sure both my wife and I could easily be paid at least 50% more (if we converted the AU$ back to GBP) if we had the same jobs in Australia.

    Finally, Health. Which is basically life expectancy and mortality rate. Not so good. You would have thought it’d be better with the NHS (which is marvellous, though slowly being dismantled it appears), but I guess our lifestyles just may not be that healthy. Enjoying life outdoors doesn’t seem realistic for a lot of the time due to the weather, and there’s a serious issue where it seems everyone must drink themselves into oblivion. Leaving early in the morning for a business trip (about 6am) and seeing loads of people still staggering out of clubs, passed out on the pavement and fighting in the backs of ambulances is a common occurrence and kinda depressing.

    • BobinOz December 3, 2014, 1:33 pm |

      Nice comparison of where you live with where your parents live, but all those scratch your head moments that you have had, I had as well when I did my comparison. And I think that highlights the shortcomings in certain areas of this report.

      For example, those stabbings count for nothing unless they are fatal. The housing stats will always be a victory to Australia as will civil engagement because yes, voting is compulsory here. The UK will always win on access to services, broadband will always be more widespread in that country as they have a mere fraction of the same land area in which to serve three times as many people.

      In the seven years I’ve been living here Australia has always appeared to have more jobs on offer at higher incomes and in some ways I think the health and environment things go together a bit and Australia wins that one for obvious reasons. Space.

      I think with more criteria added to this report it would be far more interesting. Thanks for giving us your comparison, always good to see how other areas compare.

      Cheers, Bob

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