PARIS, France- According to the OECD’s How’s Life? report, household income and wealth are essential components of individual well-being, due to the ability to “command resources” and satisfy basic needs, as well as peruse goals deemed important in one’s life.
Economic resources also enhance people’s ability to choose the lives they want to live, and “protect them against economic and personal risks.”
Since the mid-1990’s, the financial wealth of households has increased in most OECD countries, though these numbers “should be interpreted with caution as net financial wealth excludes households’ non-financial assets (i.e. land and dwellings.)”
In addition to general wealth, having a job contributes greatly to positive physical and mental health and subjective well-being.
“Jobs help develop new skins and abilities,” the OECD said. “And create opportunities for social and professional relationships.”
Education and skills are also a key component of individual well-being. Developing skills and receiving an education are tied to material living conditions and greater employability. Furthermore, the OECD said, “more educated people also have better health status.”
According to the OECD’s How’s Life? report, however, the global financial crisis eroded trust in governments and happiness in general.
“Clear negative trends have emerged in subjective well-being and civic engagement,” the OECD said. “With increasing levels of stress, lower life satisfaction, and decreasing trust in national governments.”
Today, only 40 percent of people in OECD countries trust their national governments, the lowest level since 2006.
Research into the human cost of the global financial crisis found that between 2007 and 2012, the average “life satisfaction” declined by more than 20 percent in Greece, 12 percent in Spain, and 10 percent in Italy.
The increasing poverty and inequalities in OECD countries increased the number of discouraged workers and inactive people.
The United States underwent an eight percent fall in household primary income in 2009 that resulted from a “plunge in property income, a large decline in income from self-employment and dwellings, and a small drop in compensation of employees.”
The percentage of U.S. citizens who said they trust the government fell from 39 percent to 35 percent between 2007 and 2012, and those reporting they were “very satisfied” with their lives fell from 78 percent to 67 percent.
According to the How’s Life? report, “In the wake of the crisis, household income and wealth, jobs and housing conditions deteriorated and have not completely recovered yet in many OECD countries.”
– Alycia Rock
Sources: The Guardian, Keepeek: Well Being and the Global Financial Crisis, Keepeek, OECD