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OECD looks to compare happiness across nations

24 May 2011 | The Wall Street Journal

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is turning to private citizens, not economists or think tanks, to help it figure out how to measure happiness.

As part of events marking its 50th anniversary this week, the Paris-based organization is taking on a perennial conundrum: What gauges, beyond economic output, best reflect a people's standard of living and well-being? (Read a related article.)

It's something of a departure for the organization, which promotes economic cooperation and growth among leading and developed countries.

On Tuesday, the OECD launched its "Your Better Life Index," an interactive gauge with which individuals can customize their measures of the good life, and see how different countries stack up.

The benchmarks, which can be calculated for all 34 member OECD countries, fall into 11 areas: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

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