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indicator value unit
Population 34.9 mil.
Visitors per year 25.3 mil.
Renewable energy 17.9 %

How’s Life?

Canada performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Canada ranks above the average in housing, subjective well-being, personal security, health status, social connections, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, education and skills. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Canada, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 29 850 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn about five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, about 73% of people aged 15 to 64 in Canada have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 75% of men are in paid work, compared with 70% of women. In Canada, almost 4% of employees work very long hours, considerably less than the OECD average of 13%, with 6% of men working very long hours compared with just 1% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Canada, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, well above the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 89% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 92% of women. This reverses the OECD average picture, where men are slightly more likely to have graduated high school. Canada is a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 523 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 486, making Canada one of the strongest OECD countries in students’ skills. On average in Canada, girls outperformed boys by 5 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Canada is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 7.3 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Canada also does well in terms of water quality, as 91% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, more than the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community but only moderate levels of civic participation in Canada, where 93% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 68% during recent elections,slightly lower than the OECD average of 69%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 70% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 67%, a much smaller difference than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and suggests there is broad inclusion in Canada's democratic institutions.

In general, Canadians 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, Canadians gave it a 7.3 grade on average, higher than the OECD average of 6.5.

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

Topics

OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the Canada examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Network sector competition; Small business dynamism.

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