24/06/2014 - Life expectancy, air quality, safety and other indicators of well-being can vary dramatically within countries, depending on which region you live in. Looking beyond national averages is vital to get an accurate picture of quality of life and to guide local government policy.
The OECD today launched a regional well-being website based on an interactive map covering the Organisation’s 34 member countries. It rates 362 sub-national regions with a relative score out of 10 in eight categories: income, health, safety, services, civic engagement, education, jobs and environment and reveals some large disparities.
In the UK, Northern Ireland has the cleanest air but the lowest voter turnout. Scotland has the shortest life expectancy, 3 years and 4 months less than southeast England.
In the US, people in Hawaii live six years longer than those in Mississippi, the same difference in life expectancy as that between the US and Mexico.
Australia is the most unequal OECD country in terms of how household income varies from one region to another, while Austrian regions see the least variation in pay.
“Where people live has a huge effect on their quality of life,” said Rolf Alter, OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Director, presenting the website at a conference of the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels. “By zooming in like this, we can really see the big differences that exist between regions and work out what local and state governments must do to reduce them.”
The eight well-being factors, shown as different-coloured petals, are based on data measured at regional level on household income, life expectancy, homicide rates, broadband access, voter turnout, level of education in the workforce, employment rates and particulate matter in the air. Read more.
The score out of 10 indicates how a region is doing relative to others in the country and across the 34 OECD member countries. Clicking on a petal reveals the underlying indicator and a more detailed scoreboard positioning the region in its country and in the OECD.
The website classifies regions as the first administrative tier of sub-national government, for example Provinces in Canada, Länder in Germany and States in the United States.
The new website is part of the OECD’s Better Life Initiative, which looks beyond economic growth to measure overall well-being. This includes the Better Life Index, which enables users to compare well-being across countries according to their own priorities.
For further information, or to speak to one of the OECD’s regional well-being analysts, please contact Catherine Bremer in the OECD’s Media Division (+33 1 45 24 80 97).