Are people living in what they would describe as good health? How do people feel about their lives? And do how much time do people spend working versus doing other activities?
Although many factors can determine what each of us consider to be a life well lived, we’ll look at how people rate the quality of their lives in these three key areas:
- Health: Average life expectancy and percentage of population at least 15 years old who report “good” or better health
- Life Satisfaction: Weighted sum of different response categories based on people’s rating of their current life, relative to the best and worst possible lives for them on a scale from 0 to 10, using the Cantril Ladder
- Work/Life Balance: Percentage of dependent employees whose usual hours of work per week are 50 hours or more, and average amount of hours per day that full-time employed people spend on leisure and personal activities
Per the OECD Better Life Index, the U.S. reports mixed ratings when it comes to health, life satisfaction, and work-life balance. A high number (87.5 percent) of U.S. respondents reported that their health was “good” or “very good,” which is higher than many other industrialized nations. But on an objective health indicator, life expectancy, the U.S. ranks lower than many industrialized countries. The U.S. also ranks lower on life satisfaction and working longer hours compared to a number of other industrialized countries.
Increasingly, family members are taking on the care needs of their loved ones. Nonprofessional caregivers fill an essential role for many people, including the elderly, chronically ill, children with special needs, and injured or wounded military personnel and veterans. While many may do so gladly, it often happens at the cost of paying a substantial physical, emotional, or financial toll.
The RWJF National Survey of Health Attitudes found that over half of adults surveyed reported providing occasional or frequent caregiving (57 percent); of those, slightly more than half reported positive caregiving experiences. In general, people with higher incomes reported more positive caregiving experiences.