OECD report “How’s life? 2015. Measuring well-being” – a good education is more than just a passport to work

On 13 October 2015 the OECD published its third report on “How’s life? 2015. Measuring well-being” which describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s lives and well-being in OECD and partner countries. This third edition includes a special focus on child well-being.

Aware that macro-economic statistics, such as GDP, don’t provide a sufficiently detailed picture of the living conditions of ordinary people, the OECD Framework for Measuring Well-Being and Progress is built around material conditions, quality of life and sustainability, each with their relevant dimensions.

Whereas the material conditions concentrate on traditional factors such as income and wealth, jobs and earnings and housing, the OECD tries to analyse the quality of life by measuring health status, work-life balance, education and skills, social connections, civic engagement and governance, environment quality, personal security and subjective well-being.

In its special focus on children, the report finds that they are paying a high price for today’s growing inequality and shows the extent to which some children are getting a better start in life than others. Children from more affluent backgrounds tend to have better health and a happier school life. Children from less well-off families find fewer of their classmates to be kind and helpful and are more likely to be bullied at school. Life satisfaction, reading and problem-solving skills, communication with parents and intentions to vote in national elections in later life are all lower among children from less affluent backgrounds. Growing inequality among parents ends up sapping opportunities available to their children.

In terms of education and skills, the OECD report recognises that a good education is more than just a passport to work and to facilitate getting a good job. The opportunity to learn new skills can be intrinsically rewarding and education is generally valued by people as an outcome in its own right. Higher levels of education are also associated with better health status and greater civic engagement. Moreover, the statistical findings of the paper show for instance that, between 2009 and 2013, educational attainment increased in almost every OECD country. While young women have generally closed the gap with young men in term of educational attainment, this is not yet the case for competencies at age 25-64. According to the OECD survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), women’s proficiency is generally lower than men’s, especially in numeracy.

SOLIDAR Foundation believes that access to quality education and training plays a key part in promoting and improving social cohesion and inclusion. In its contribution to the European Commission’s public consultation on service provision to the long-term unemployed, SOLIDAR Foundation states that education and training are important tools that need not only to be recognised as part of active labour market policies, but that they first and foremost constitute a fundamental right of each individual that must not be threatened. Moreover, SOLIDAR Foundation advocates for learning societies in which equal learning opportunities are available to both women and men in order to promote social justice and combat inequalities and gender gaps.

You can read the report here.

Related content