Australia in OECD Better Life Index 2014
Australia performs very well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the OECD Better Life Index.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Australia, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 31 197 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn almost six times as much as the bottom 20%.
In terms of Australian employment, over 72% of people aged 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 67% of women. People in Australia work 1 728 hours a year, less than most people in the OECD who work 1 765 hours. Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. About 14% of employees work very long hours, much higher than the OECD average of 9%, with 21% of men working very long hours compared with just 6% for women.
Having a good education in Australia is an important requisite for finding a job. In Australia, 74% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 75%. This is truer of men than women, as 76% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 73% of women. This difference is higher than the OECD average and suggests women’s participation in higher education could be strengthened. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 514 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 497. On average in Australia, girls outperformed boys by 8 points, slightly below the average OECD gap of 10 points.
In terms of health in Australia, life expectancy at birth is almost 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 80 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 13.1 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Australia also does well in terms of water quality, as 93% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 84%.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Australia, where 93% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 93% during recent elections; this figure is the highest in the OECD where the average is 72%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 94% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 92%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Australia’s democratic institutions
In general, Australians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 83% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc. ) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 76%.’
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