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indicator value unit
Population 17.6 mil.
Visitors per year 3.6 mil.
Renewable energy 24.1 %

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 relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Chile ranks close to the average in subjective well-being, and ranks below the average in civic engagement, health status, jobs and earnings, social connections, work-life balance, housing, income and wealth, personal security, education and skills, and environmental quality.

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 lower than the OECD average of USD 29 016 a year.

In terms of employment, over 62% of people aged 15 to 64 in Chile have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 73% of men are in paid work, compared with 52% of women. In Chile, 14% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13%, with 17% of men working very long hours compared with 8% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Chile, 61% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, below the OECD average of 76%. This is truer of men than women, as 62% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 61% 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 79 years, one year lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 18.5 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 14.05 micrograms per cubic meter. Chile could perform better in terms of water quality, as 71% 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 moderate sense of community and low levels of civic participation in Chile, where 82% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, lower than the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 49% during recent elections; lower than the OECD average of 68% and one of the lowest in the OECD. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 51% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 52%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and suggests there is broad inclusion in Chile's democratic institutions.

In general, Chileans 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, Chileans gave it a 6.5 grade, in line with the OECD average.

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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Chile 2015

This 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Chile examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapter cover: Bringing all Chileans on board.

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Chile in Detail