Publication of ‘Understanding Life in Ireland: The Well-being Framework 2023’

9th June, 2023

Today the Government published ‘Understanding Life in Ireland: The Well-being Framework 2023’. The Report provides this year’s analysis of the 35 indicators, across eleven dimensions, in the Government’s Well-being Framework.


Overall, it shows that Ireland’s performance is positive across ten of the 11 well-being framework dimensions with only one dimension, the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity dimension, showing a negative performance. A new focus on equality in this year’s analysis also shows that of the 11 dimensions, two had particularly large differences between groups. These were Housing and the Built Environment, and Income and Wealth.


This is the second year an analysis report on progress under the Well-being Framework has been published by Government. This report is now an annual contribution to the Budget process, and supports a broader discussion of the impacts of budgetary decisions. It will feature at next week’s National Economic Dialogue and at other important points in the Budgetary cycle, as the well-being initiative is integrated across Government.


Ireland’s Well-being Framework provides policy-makers, Government and the Irish people with a more holistic way of thinking about how Ireland is doing as a country, with its focus on quality of life, with a particular emphasis on equality and sustainability across economic, environmental and social issues.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“The development of a Well-being Framework is a major new initiative of this Government and is modelled on best practice from other countries.  We know that no single measure can accurately capture how we are doing as a country. By bringing together economic, social and environmental statistics in an integrated way, this framework helps us to assess where we are and to make better choices and decisions in future.  It shows that Ireland is doing well when it comes to most things when we compare ourselves with the past and with other countries.  We should never lose sight of the fact that Ireland is one of the best countries in the world in which to live, grow old, raise a family, pursue a career or run a business.  It also shows that there is plenty of room for improvement too.


“This year’s report shows that Ireland is on the right track as a country making solid progress in most areas but there is still much work to do. There is always more work to do. We are committed to making use of the Well-being Framework across Government as we look to improve the quality of life for our citizens.  The work of the new Child Poverty and Well-being Unit in my Department will also make a difference especially for children and their families.”


The Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD, said:

“Today’s report provides a clear sense of the social progress we have made and challenges we face in building a more sustainable economy and inclusive society. By incorporating a diverse set of well-being dimensions, the Framework provides an important lens for us to embed well-being considerations into our decision-making processes and so develop a more long-term and joined-up approach to policy-making.”


The Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, joined in welcoming the Report:

“I would like to welcome today’s publication of Understanding Life in Ireland: The Well-being Dashboard 2023, which provides valuable insights into how the lives of people living in Ireland are progressing over time, and how we compare with other countries. The information generated through the Well-being Framework can be utilised at all levels and across all Government Departments, to improve the design of public policy and develop effective and sustainable public services that continually improve the lives of our people.”




Notes to Editor


Overview of the Well-being Framework for Ireland

Ireland’s Well-being Framework was launched in July 2021. It seeks to move beyond using just economic measures in gauging our progress as a country, by encompassing economic, environmental and social issues together, rather than separately or in isolation. It focuses on quality of life, with a particular emphasis on equality and sustainability. The Well-being Framework is currently being integrated across Government, including across the Budgetary cycle. Work to integrate a well-being approach, including into evaluation and expenditure decisions, is also being advanced.



The Framework consists of 11 dimensions which are made up of different aspects of well-being. The Well-being Information Hub, which is hosted by the CSO, covers 35 data indicators across these 11 dimensions and provides a medium term, holistic view of quality of life in Ireland.


The Government has agreed that analysis of the Framework will be published annually and included as part of the Budget cycle. Building on last year’s integration into the budgetary cycle, it is again proposed that the Framework will feature at the National Economic Dialogue, in the Summer Economic Statement and in Budget Day documentation.


More information is available at:


Report – ‘Understanding Life in Ireland: the Well-being Framework 2023’


Overall, the 2023 reports shows that performance is positive across the well-being indicators in ten of the 11 dimensions with only one dimension, the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity, showing a negative performance. Mental and Physical Health was the second worst performing dimension.


The purpose of the well-being initiative is to provide a medium-term view of the country, and therefore data chosen is often annual, and frequently with long lead-in times. The reference periods that the analysis considers vary across the indicators from 2018 to 2023. Some data (e.g. in the work and job quality dimension) covers the period where inflation and cost of living issues arose, whereas the most recent indicators for other dimensions (e.g. Subjective Well-being) are from 2018. As a result, care should be taken in interpreting and comparing the performance of the dimensions.


Dimensions that perform well in the 2023 report include Housing and the Built Environment (driven by performance in new dwelling completions; A or B domestic dwelling energy rating, and; housing cost overburden rate), Subjective Well-being (driven by performance in overall life satisfaction, and; population who did not feel depressed or downhearted) and Safety and Security (driven by Ireland’s performance in comparison with other countries in the murder rate per 100,000 people; and the population who worry they could be a victim of a crime; alongside reductions in the number of persons killed or injured on roads).


Of the 35 indicators, eight show negative performance in 2023 (measured by trend over approximately five years, and how Ireland performs compared to other EU countries). These are: school-aged children who report being happy with their life overall; research and development personnel; pollution, grime or other environmental problems; water body quality; greenhouse gas emissions; waste generated; persons who experienced discrimination in the last two years.


The introduction this year of a comparable figure for equality across indicators, in addition to an overall progress figure, allows for the assessment of each dimension for equality outcomes. Particular groups that perform less well than other comparable groups across multiple dimensions can be identified. An examination of this data shows several groups that experience inequality across a high proportion of indicators. These are women, single-parent households, people living alone, immigrants/non-Irish, unemployed people, households with lower incomes, households in rented accommodation, and people with long-term illness or disability. Two dimensions show particularly large differences between groups: Housing and the Built Environment and Income and Wealth. For the Income and Wealth dimension, it is important to note, that these indicators are explored at specific moments in time within a household – e.g. people of working age versus people in retirement or families with and without dependent children. If these indicators could take account of income and wealth over the entire life cycle, these areas are likely to be more equal.


Fourteen of the 35 indicators have previously been identified as being particularly important for sustainable well-being. Of these, four have a negative performance overall in the 2023 report: research and development personnel, water body quality, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generated.


There has not been significant changes in the overall analysis this year in comparison with last year. This is due to a continuation of trends in indicators (both over time and internationally), or (as mentioned above) the lack of new data in certain areas. However, some differences do appear across the thirty-five indicators, including that the indicators for research and development personnel and the waste indicator are now preforming negatively (having performed positively in 2022 analysis).