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indicator value unit
Population 23.1 mil.
Visitors per year 6.1 mil.
Renewable energy 4.6 %

How’s Life?

Australia performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Australia ranks at the top in civic engagement and above the average in income and wealth, environmental quality, health status, housing, jobs and earnings, education and skills, subjective well-being, and social connections.

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 USD 33 138 a year, more than the OECD average of USD 29 016 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn more than five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 72% of people aged 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 77% of men are in paid work, compared with 66% of women. In Australia, 13% of employees work very long hours, in line with the OECD average, with 20% of men working very long hours compared with just 6% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Australia, 77% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, close to the OECD average of 76%. This is truer of men than women, as 79% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 76% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 512 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 5 points, slightly below the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Australia is around 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 PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 5.9 micrograms per cubic meter, the lowest rate in the OECD where the average is 14.05 micrograms per cubic meter. Australia also does well in terms of water quality, as 94% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Australia, where 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 93% during recent elections; this figure is the highest in the OECD where the average is 68%, but reflects the fact that voting is compulsory in Australia. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 97% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 91%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Australians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Australians gave it a 7.3 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.5.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys Australia 2014

OECD's 2014 Economic Survey of Australia examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover taxes and transfers, and federal-state relations.

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Australia in Detail