Thursday, May 24, 2012

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Australia, as seen by the OECD Better Life Index

Population 21.0 mil.
Visitors per year 5.6 mil.
Renewable energy 5.20 %

Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Australia, the average person earns 26 927 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 22 387USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, over 72% of people aged 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 79% of men are in paid work, compared with 66% of women. People in Australia work 1686 hours a year, less than most people in the OECD who work 1749 hours. Almost 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 is an important requisite for finding a job. In Australia, 71% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of men than women, as 74% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 68% of women. This difference is higher than the OECD average and suggests women’s participation in higher education could be strengthened. Australia is nonetheless a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 519 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, making Australia one of the strongest OECD countries in students’ skills. On average in Australia, girls outperformed boys by 9 points, in line with the average OECD gap.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Australia 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 14 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 22 micrograms per cubic meter. Australia also does well in terms of water quality, as 92% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Australia, where 97% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens' participation in the political process, was 95% during recent elections; this figure is the highest in the OECD. The average is 73%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 96% and for the bottom 20% it is 94%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 7% 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 74% 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 72%.

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