NL Well-being

In 2011 the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) released its Better Life Index (BLI) for member nations and other major economies such as Russia. The purpose of this annual index is to produce an indicator that measures what is important in people’s lives such as our health, relationship to others and standard of livening. Statistics agencies regularly produce estimates of a country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), but this indicator only represents one dimension of a nation’s economy, its level of production. Overall social well-being, of course, requires more than this.

While it is important to have a BLI for countries, it is perhaps more important to have such indicators available at the provincial or even local level. Recently, Enrico Giovannini, OECD’s former head of Statistics, stated: “On the local level you can engage citizens and civil society much more easily than at a national level. Therefore it’s easier to use this narrative to build a new development model for a specific territory or take decisions that have an immediate impact on people’s quality of life.” (an OECD newsletter, Beyond GDP, May 2014).

CARE’s Doug May and Phil Hoskin, in co-operation with the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, has produced the OECD’s BLI for Canada’s 10 provinces for the period from 2000 to 2013 on the Community Accounts. Readers are encourage to change the weights on the index and use the motion charts.

Below is one chart that shows our Province’s national ranking over the period using the OECD methodology.

Notice that Newfoundland and Labrador for 2013 ranks 3rd from the bottom. A separate methodology using 2000 as the base year shows a completely different picture shown below. Now our Province comes out on top, demonstrating that we have made the most social progress over the period.

Remember that how we do depends on what you consider important as recorded by how you, that is, what weights you use for the index.

For more information, read the CARE paper, OECD’s Better Life Index for Canada and the Provinces or review our recent PowerPoint presentation, which illustrates that Newfoundland and Labrador ranks above the OECD average internationally.