Posts tagged ‘oecd better life index’

Create Your Own Quality of Life Rating Index

A guy I met in college hated greenery. He wanted to put cement and asphalt over everything, and his dream home, he said, would have no shrubbery, no lawn, no trees, and no flowers.  It wasn’t just a matter of easy maintenance; he frankly hated nature.  Weird?  Yes!

But he’s a perfect example of something I’ve been thinking about as I read “Quality of Life” rankings articles.  Not everyone would rate my college friend’s dream home and yard as representative of their own dream– high quality of life.  People value things very differently.  So look closely at the ratings makers and their personal and political agendas if you read the indices, as I do.

A close look at any number of “Quality of Life” ratings indices will reveal that quality of life is very subjective.  Any rating is based upon what is most important to the creators or readers of the particular survey.  One size does not fit all.

When you look at “The Top 10 Best Places To Live” or “The Top 10 Happiest Countries,” ask yourself what the most important variables should be, and whether your ideals match the survey creators’ ideals.  Look very closely at what’s magnified most in the survey’s questions. Remember that no life-survey can cover all areas of life, nor can it know how to value individuals’ favorite qualities.

The people making up the survey, educated and wise as they may be, cannot possibly see life through everyone’s eyes. They are viewing things through their own particular lenses –and in some cases, they are opinion-makers, spin doctors, experts who are, in addition to being experts, bought and paid for.

So, how can you know which ratings indexes to trust?  Be smart.  Read closely.

Were most of the questions that the ratings survey asked the respondents based on just one or two areas of life?  Were they minimizing the concept of political freedom, for example, but maximizing the concept of clean air and green buildings?  Were they minimizing the concept of “access to mountain biking trails,” your favorite hobby, while maximizing the concept of “access to dentistry” (and you are a dentist so that one doesn’t matter to you).

What matters to you?  Are the questions focusing on what matters most to you: whether it’s a beachfront locale, psychologically healthy neighbors, longevity, political peace, fertility of the soil, quality of education –or access to education?  Try to develop your own ranking while you read others’ rankings.

I saw one quality of life ratings index that obviously weighted “access to government-sponsored health care” above other considerations.  Well, what if you prefer private health care?  What if you don’t even like government sponsored health care, much less consider it the highest priority in a “quality of life” ranking?  What if government sponsored health care reminds you of the horror stories your Russian grandmother tells you about life under government-sponsored communism?

The only place on the web I can find that allows you to create your own quality of life ratings index is at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) website.

You can start with all topics rated equally, or set your own preferences there, before comparing quality of life variables between different countries. The index allows you to put different weights on each of the topics, and decide for yourself what contributes most to your own idea of well-being.  (Of course, not all topics important to you may be listed, but of those listed, you can rank them yourself.)