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indicator value unit
Population 196.5 mil.
Visitors per year 5.2 mil.
Renewable energy 45.8 %

How’s Life?

Brazil has made progress in recent years in improving the quality of life of its citizens, as shown by the fact that Brazilians’ general satisfaction with their lives is higher than the OECD average despite lower than average scores in some topics on the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Brazil, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is lower than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year.

In terms of employment, over 68% of people aged 15 to 64 in Brazil have a paid job, slightly more than the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 80% of men are in paid work, compared with 56% of women. In Brazil, 12% of employees work very long hours, higher than the OECD average of 9%, with 15% of men working very long hours compared with 9% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Brazil, 41% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, less than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 39% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 43% of women. Among younger people – a better indicator of Brazil’s future – 53% of 25-34 year-olds have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, also lower than the OECD average of 82% but showing progress. In terms of education quality, the average student scored 401 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is lower than the OECD average of 497. The gender gap in Brazil is narrower than for the OECD overall, with girls scoring 403 and boys 399, compared with an average OECD difference of 9 points in favour of girls.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Brazil is 74 years, 6 years lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 77 years, compared with 70 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 20 micrograms per cubic meter, close to the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. Brazil could do better in terms of water quality, as 75% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, less than the OECD average of 84%.  

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Brazil, where 88% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, slightly less than the OECD average 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 79%, higher than the OECD average of 72%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 81% and for the bottom 20% it is 80%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Brazil’s democratic institutions.

In general, Brazilians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 82% 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 80%.

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OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Brazil 2013

OECD's 2013 economic review of Brazil examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. This edition's special chapters cover productivity and competitiveness of Brazilian firms and income distribution and the new middle class.

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Brazil in Detail