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indicator value unit
Population 17.2 mil.
Visitors per year 2.8 mil.
Renewable energy 22.08 %

How’s Life?

Chile has made tremendous progress over the last decade in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens. Since the 1990s, the country has seen a track record of robust growth and poverty reduction. Notwithstanding, Chile performs well in only a few measures of well-being and,  ranks low in a large number of topics relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Chile, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 13 762 USD a year, much less than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn 13 times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, over 62% of people aged 15 to 64 in Chile have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 74% of men are in paid work, compared with 50% of women. People in Chile work 2 029 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Some 15% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 9%, with 19% of men working very long hours compared with 9% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Chile, 72% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, below the OECD average of 75%. There is little difference between men and women, as 73% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 72% of women. In terms of education quality, the average student in Chile scored 436 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. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Chile boys scored 3 point higher than girls.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Chile is almost 78 years, two years lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs –is 46.2 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Chile could perform better in terms of water quality, as 79% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, lower than the OECD average of 84%.  

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Chile, where 85% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, lower than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 88% during recent elections; 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 an estimated 90% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 92%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points.

In general, Chileans are less 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 slightly lower than the OECD average of 76%.

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: Chile 2013

OECD's 2013 review of Chile's economy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover innovation and entrepreneurship.

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