Money isn't everything, says a new rich country index

Money can't buy you happiness. Or so goes the saying. And now we have hard numbers to prove it.

In a newly-developed interactive tool, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the rich man's club, allows the user to measure a country's progress in more ways than just income.

With equal consideration to a total of 11 factors that impact an individual's life in which income is only one, the results are very different from what the GDP numbers would have us believe. The interactive tool, which requires your computer to have a Flash 10 plug-in, allows you to put in your own weights to various things that add value to your life.

The Better Life Index is only for OECD member countries. The results will get truly interesting if they are extended to emerging markets as well. Photo by Parthisix

Australia boasts the best life indicators, according to the 'Better Life Index' put out by OECD, followed by Canada and Sweden. Australia's rank, going purely by real income, or per capita GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP), is a much lower 10 and Canada's rank is 8. Looking at this result in reverse, Luxembourg, which is the best performer on per capita GDP-PPP, does not even figure in the top 10 according to the OECD index. Norway and the US, the next on per capita incomes, also have slightly lower ranks as per the index.

The factors covered under the index are divided into two parts - material living conditions and quality of life indicators. While the former includes income and wealth, availability of jobs and housing conditions, the latter includes the presence of social networks (community), education, environment quality, participation in policy-making (governance), health, life satisfaction, personal security (safety) and work-life balance.

It needs to be noted that the index is only for OECD member countries, which already represent a group of developed economies with relatively high per capita income levels. The results will get truly interesting if they are extended to emerging markets like the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as well.