Thursday, 26 May 2011

Ranking a better life

For my father

It's relatively easy to measure a country's gross domestic product, inflation rate or unemployment, and plot that indicator against other countries. But other indicators are harder to measure - happiness, life satisfaction, work-life balance or community spirit.

So when I read about the OECD's Better Life Initiative and the noble idea of plotting many hard-to-pin-down indicators (along with some easier ones such as safety, education or income) into one chart, I was fascinated. In particular, I'm looking for ex post facto justification for moving from the UK to Poland.

Start by right-clicking here, opening a new window or tab. The click on the button 'Start with all topics rated equally'. Then, in the bottom left of the screen, click on 'Display countries by rank'. You should see this chart (a fully-interactive version of what you see below). And then the fun begins!

Of the 34 OECD member countries, Poland ranks 24th when all topics are considered. Only Slovenia and Czech Republic do better among post-communist countries. Poland lies just one place behind Italy, home of la dolce vita, and ahead of Greece and Portugal. Best country on earth? Canada (hello, Canada!)

You can re-order the ranking according to whatever factor you consider most important - income, housing, jobs... Hours of statistical fun, hours of debate over a beer as to where's the best place to live. And no doubt of controversy (why does Slovakia rate so much better than Poland for environment, for example).

The OECD launched this initiative two days ago. It will be interesting to track this chart year after year, to see how the relative positions of these countries change over time. I'm sure that 20 years ago, Poland would not have been just one place behind Italy, similarly, I'm sure that in 20 years time Poland will have moved up the ranking quite considerably.

So, dive in and have fun with statistics!

This time last year:
Biology and spirituality

This time two years ago:
Paysages de Varsovie

This time three years ago:
Spring walk, twilight time


Anonymous said...

Very interesting.
It appears that PL should focus its energies on improving its delivery of healthcare services. It seems to be lagging its neighbours.

From this analysis, it's clear you need to visit Canada.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Canada, the land of milk and honey. Yes, it’s all true what they say in this report. Question is would you immigrate to Canada, to better your life, your kids education, though costly, at the expense of losing close family ties? Would you be willing to work longer and harder? If you answered yes to both questions, then Canada is your destination. See you soon?