Looking at the difference between the life-satisfaction scores of the person at the bottom of the population’s most satisfied 10% and the one at the top of the least satisfied 10%, some countries are certainly more equal than others. Much of western Europe, Israel, Japan and New Zealand have a relatively equal distribution of life satisfaction. Other countries, such as Chile, Slovenia, Portugal and Brazil, display a much greater variance with a wider gap between the most satisfied and least satisfied groups.
Many factors may account for the variation of subjective well-being across the population, but a number of the culprits are fairly predictable. Gender, access to education, employment and income distribution all influence inequality.
OECD (2011), How's Life?: Measuring Well-being, Paris.
©OECD Observer No 287 Q4 2011