Statistics Jersey have just published an updated Better Life Index.
I think it's a really great initiative to have a broader based measure of how Jersey is doing, especially one that is comparable with elsewhere.
So, well done Statistics Jersey. Overall, we ended up just above average, but behind the UK and France. The highest score for those countries making up the index was for Norway, and the lowest South Africa. You can read the full index here.
As well as the opportunity to compare with other participants on an overall basis, we can also see how we rank for the various dimensions that make up the index. For example whilst we are above average for jobs and earnings, we are well below the average for net disposable income, in spite of our higher earnings and low tax rates. Work / life balance also scores badly, reflecting just how hard people in Jersey have to work to get by, and it seems to be getting worse.
Under the housing dimension, an area which I have said in previous columns I am sure is at the root of many other problems, the good news was nearly every household has a flushing toilet, but sadly & very surprisingly, not quite all of them. Our spending on housing at 26% of net adjusted disposable income puts us bottom of that dimension.
Pictured: "Our spending on housing at 26% of net adjusted disposable income puts us bottom of that dimension."
Subjective, but arguably most important of all, is the overall score for life satisfaction. Here, we were ranked just about average, a long drop from when the report was first published in 2013, which rated us 3rd just below Norway & Denmark, countries that still lead the pack. So on this measure the trend is worrying. Just what is the cause and what should we do?
Our worst performance was on civic engagement. Very sadly many of us seem to have given up on voting and politicians to improve our lives. Disturbing, when you think that it is only 75 years since Jersey experienced life without democracy.
I must admit I have been surprised, disappointed and concerned by the latest index. I happen to think Jersey is a fantastic place, but I am one of the lucky ones. Born at a time when it was easier to get a job, houses were cheaper and tax rates even lower than they are now. Some of my generation even benefit from final salary based pensions that increase with inflation. Looking around at issues like housing and the pressure on people I can begin to understand why my privileged view of the world is no longer the average view.
Hopefully our political leaders will be thinking very carefully about our latest performance on the Better Life Index. I would like to believe that they are now really worried, and the Chief Minister will be thumping the table and tasking Ministers and officers to work out what they (and we) should be doing to turn things around, and quickly.
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