Monday, October 13, 2014

Head of OECD says media missed point of study when labeling South as having low quality of life

Carol Guthrie, a southerner and head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Washington Center, says a Washington Post article that used the center's data rankings missed the point when it labeled the South as having a low quality of life, Guthrie writes for the Post.
The study ranked states by nine categories: income, jobs, housing, health, education, environment, safety, civic engagement and accessibility of services, then assigned a value of 1 to 10 for each measure. States were ranked in order of highest to lowest score, and eight of the 10 bottom states are in the South. (Post graphic)

The rankings don't offer an opinion about where it's good or bad to live, Guthrie writes. "One thing we don’t measure is perhaps the South’s most abundant natural resource: Southerners’ appreciation for living there. The data don't cover satisfaction or how we feel about home. They present objective criteria that underpin economic as well as physical well-being, including things that make our regions more or less competitive and able to provide vibrant quality of life."

"The data—and the ability to compare it—are not tendered as criticism; they’re tools," Guthrie writes. "What we offer is the leverage of cold, hard facts to policymakers and citizens looking to bring about change. For instance: When you know that more than 40 percent of U.S. regions have a quarter of their population at risk of falling into poverty, versus less than 10 percent of regions in comparable European economies, you have proof that it must be possible to do better. And you might wonder how to go about that. We identify best practices and suggest what policymakers might do to tackle the most prevalent problems we find."

"The data also reminded me that there’s a reason I work where I do," Guthrie writes. "The OECD’s real value is that it better equips national, regional and local governments—and committed citizens—to lift up those places that we love so much. When we can see clearly what’s working and what isn’t, we know where to start." (Read more)

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