Interactive: What makes for a better life?

Pretty provocative question, huh? Using this interactive, your students will grapple with this question and learn how residents in other countries contemplate it too.

This interactive takes a step back from talking about money and forces students to think about what they value most when it comes to life. It will also allow them to 1) see what countries match up best with their definition of a better life 2) see how their answers compare with others in the US and 3) have them think about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the US compared to other developed countries in the OECD. Here goes…

Here’s the OECD Interactive

Here’s a few ideas on how you can use it:

1. Students start by toggling the importance of 11 different factors:

2. After they complete this step, ask a few questions:

  • Pair/share with a partner: If you had to pick your top 3 factors for a better life, what would they be and why?
  • How much does your financial situation matter in achieving what you want in these categories? Explain.
  • Do you think the importance of these factors will change over your lifetime? If so, provide some examples.

3. Now let them compare their responses to what 20k+ other Americans said (could also have list of the 11 factors up on the white board to see how many students selected each factor to see how the class compares):

4. Next, they can see which countries fare best based on the “Better Life index” they constructed. Here’s how the various countries in the OECD stack up based on the criteria that I randomly selected above (click BY RANK at bottom of graph to show data this way):

5. Finally, if you want to dive deeper, here’s an 8 page report specific to findings in the US which includes this chart comparing the US to other OECD countries (let’s build those data interpretation skills this year!)

Quick orientation here: Longer bars indicate better outcomes, shorter bars indicate worse outcomes. If data is missing, then the segment of the circle is shaded white.

Questions for students:

  • What are the three greatest strengths of the US relative to other OECD countries?
  • What are the three greatest weaknesses of the US relative to other OECD countries?
  • For any of the 3 greatest weaknesses, can you come up with potential solutions to improve the situation?
  • Do you disagree with any elements of the chart and its assessment of our strengths and weaknesses?
  • The US ranks in the bottom tier when it comes to adult skills. What do you think are “adult skills” and why do we score so low?
    • How can this course help improve your “adult skills?”


Looking for more engaging interactives and games, check out the NGPF Interactive Library!


Go deeper on this topic of money and values ​​in the first lesson in the Behavioral Economics unit.

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim’s saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance .


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