Wednesday, 8 October 2014

OECD well-being indicators

Where is the best place to live these days? According to the most recent OECD report on regional well being around the world, it is Canberra:
While the Sydney Morning Herald headline said "Canberra the best place to live, in the world's best country", the rival Herald Sun headline went "Is Canberra really the world's best city? More like capital punishment".
The interactive website of the OECD clumps Crete with the remaining Aegean islands:
Given that Crete is the largest island in Greece (and the fifth largest of the Mediterranean), the scores are totally misleading. An island like Crete with a population of 500,000 and four major urban centres, one of which constitutes the fourth biggest city in the whole country, cannot possibly be compared to a small Aegean island like (for example) Limnos, which has a total population count of 16,000. The housing score surprised me most: there is no shortage of homes for Greek island citizens, and Greek island houses are generally quite sturdy, despite our numerous earthquakes. Crete in particular is in a much better position earthquake-wise than other Greek regions. 

Athens does not seem to fare much better than the 'Aegean Islands and Crete' in terms of jobs, environment and housing, while income levels appear to be higher in Athens: 
This does not seem to make any sense - the island environments cannot really be compared to the highly urbanised Athenian environment, while income levels, which are generally low all over the country, do not take into account the purchasing power of the average citizen in each region. 

Comparing the results for the place where I live now to the place where I was born, New Zealand has also been assigned a rather messy classification: I doubt the average New Zealander answers 'the North island' when answering the question 'Where do you live?'. This details is even more suspect, given that the 'best place' to live in the world is 'Canberra', which is a city, not a region (like 'North Island'). And a city can never be compared to a greater region. But Canberra and Wellington (for example) could be compared to each other. 
It's rather surprising to find environment given full marks for 'North Island', especially when compared to Greece's islands - I wonder what is missing from the Greek island environment, for them to get such a low score. More surprises: the 'North Island' and the 'Aegean Islands and Crete' have very similar income levels. 

A city I haven't lived in but have visited often enough to be able to compare with where I live is London: 
We understand from recent news reports that there isn't enough housing in London. Housing is also a very expensive commodity for all residents despite their income levels. From what I've seen of housing in London, I really don't think that housing there is three times better in 'Greater London' than it is in 'Aegean Islands and Crete'.

These figures really don't make much sense to my sensible mind. They appear to be completely generic, and totally unrepresentative of the true quality of life found in them. The OECD admits this to a certain extent:
How’s life?  The answer can depend on what region you live in.  Evidence shows that some factors that most influence peoples’ well-being are local issues. 
It has done more specific case studies of various regions, but there are unfortunately very few of them. A comparable one for Crete may be of Sardinia. To get more information about Sardinia, you can go to this link and click on the bubble on the map.

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