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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 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 is 11 039 USD a year, much less than the OECD average of 23 047 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 61% of people aged 15 to 64 in Chile have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 74% of men are in paid work, compared with 49% of women. People in Chile work 2 047 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. Some 16% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 9%, with 20% of men working very long hours compared with just 10% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Chile, 71% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, below the OECD average of 74%. There is little difference between men and women, as 72% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 71% of women. In terms of education quality, the average student in Chile scored 439 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. On average in Chile, girls outperformed boys by 3 points, less than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

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 53 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably higher than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. Chile could perform better in terms of water quality, as 77% 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 82% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, lower than the OECD average of 90%. 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 90% and for the bottom 20% it is 92%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points.

In general, Chileans are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 77% 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 lower than the OECD average of 80%.


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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Chile in Detail