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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 tremendous progress over the last decade in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens. In recent years, the country has seen a track record of inclusive growth and poverty reduction. Notwithstanding, Brazil performs well in only a few measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Brazil ranks above the average in civic engagement, subjective well-being and social connections, but below average in education and skills, personal security. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Brazil, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is lower than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year.

In terms of employment, about 64% of people aged 15 to 64 in Brazil have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 76% of men are in paid work, compared with 54% of women. In Brazil, 7% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 9% of men working very long hours compared with 5% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Brazil, 49% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 46% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 52% of women. In terms of education quality, the average student scored 395 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is below the OECD average of 486. The gender gap in Brazil is narrower than for the OECD overall, with girls scoring 396 and boys 394, in line with an average OECD difference of 2 points in favour of girls.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Brazil is 75 years, five years lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 79 years, compared with 71 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 10.3 micrograms per cubic meter, below the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Brazil could do better in terms of water quality, as 72% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, lower than the OECD average of 81%.  

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Brazil, where 90% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, broadly in line with the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 79% during recent elections. This figure is higher than the OECD average of 69%, and reflects the practice of compulsory voting in Brazil. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 81% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 80%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Brazilians are just as satisfied with their lives as the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Brazilians gave it a 6.6 grade on average, broadly in line with the OECD average of 6.5.

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

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OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Brazil 2015

This 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Brazil examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Strengthening the industrial sector and Improving health policies.

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Brazil in Detail