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indicator value unit
Population 81.9 mil.
Visitors per year 30.4 mil.
Renewable energy 10.7 %

How’s Life?

Germany performs well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Germany ranks above the average in education and skills, work-life balance, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, environmental quality, social connections, civic engagement, housing, personal security and subjective well-being. It ranks below average in health status. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Germany, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 33 652 a year, higher 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 more than four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, about 75% of people aged 15 to 64 in Germany have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 71% of women. In Germany, almost 5% of employees work very long hours, considerably less than the OECD average of 13%, with 7% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Germany, 86% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, more than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of men than women, as 88% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 85% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 508 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. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Germany boys scored 2 points higher than girls on average.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Germany is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 78 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 14.0 micrograms per cubic meter, slightly higher than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Germany does well in terms of water quality, as 93% 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 and moderate levels of civic participation in Germany, where 92% 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 72% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 69%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 77% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 58%, much broader than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and points to shortcomings in the political mobilisation of the worst-off.

In general, Germans 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, Germans gave it a 7.0 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.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Germany 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the Germany examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Boosting investment performance and Raising well-being in Germany’s aging society.

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Germany in Detail