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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, environmental quality, social connections, housing, personal security and subjective well-being, but below average in civic engagement.

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 31 252 a year, more than the OECD average of USD 25 908 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, some 73% of people aged 15 to 64 in Germany have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 69% of women. In Germany, 5% of employees work very long hours, lower than the OECD average of 13%, with 8% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% for 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 75%. This is truer of men than women, as 89% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 84% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 515 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 497. On average in Germany, girls outperformed boys by 10 points, more than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Germany is almost 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs –is 15.6 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Germany also does well in terms of water quality, as 95% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, more than the OECD average of 81%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Germany, where 94% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 72% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 68%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 81% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 59%, 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, higher than the OECD average of 6.6.

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

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OECD Economic Surveys: Germany 2014

OECD's 2014 Economic Survey of Germany examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover strengthening financial sector resilience, raising the potential of the domestically oriented sector and making economic growth more socially inclusive.

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