Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well-being (왤빙)

With my 5th graders in the school cafeteria
How happy are you? Do you measure your contentment in life based upon your wealth, your community ties, or your safety? How does your country measure well-being?

The OECD, which stands for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, measured well-being in its 34 member countries using 11 topics, some of which include housing, education, governance, and work-life balance.  By exploring the interactive website, one can see the distribution of countries based upon the Better Life Index. With scores close to 8.0, Canada and Australia ranked the highest, when the 11 topics were set equally.

South Korea belongs to the OECD, and its Better Life Index is 5.3. Ten months have past since I moved to Korea, so naturally, I was curious to see how this country defined well-being. Access to jobs, education attainment, and personal safety were ranked the most important components of well-being in South Korea. In comparison, Australia and Canada placed greatest emphasis on housing, education, and life satisfaction.

Some of the statistics surprised me, so I’m including a few. See how Korea ranks!
- At 2256 hours a year, Koreans work the most amongst the OECD countries. The OECD average is 1739 hours.

- 44.7% of Korean men and 7.2% of Korean women reported smoking daily in 2008. Smoking rates for men are the second highest in the OECD, while the women’s rates are the lowest.

- Amongst the OECD countries, Korea has the lowest percentage of the labour force that has been unemployed for more than a year. Currently, it is 0.01%.

- Only 80% of Koreans believe that they know one person who would help them in a time of need.  (I was confused that in a country that emphasizes the collective over the individual, people would indicate social networks to be weaker than in other OECD countries.)

- The educational level of Koreans is one of the highest in the OECD. 98% of Korean young people aged 25-35 years old have attained education equivalent to a high-school degree. Korea also has the highest literacy scores in the OECD. The PISA average is 539 out of 600. (Talk to any educator in the Korean public and/or private education system, and they’ll tell you not to accept the numbers blindly. Korea’s education system has its unique challenges.)

While you think about this, let Kanye inspire you. Thanks for reading!

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