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Greece performs well in only a few measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Greece ranks above the average in health status, work-life balance, and personal security, but below average in education and skills, income and wealth, civic engagement, housing, environmental quality, subjective well-being, social connections, and jobs and earnings.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Greece, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 18 575 a year, less 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 six times as much as the bottom 20%.
In terms of employment, some 49% of people aged 15 to 64 in Greece have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%, and the lowest figure in the OECD. Some 58% of men are in paid work, compared with 40% of women. Almost 6% of employees work very long hours, lower than the OECD average of 13%, with 8% of men working very long hours compared with 4% for women.
Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Greece, 68% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, less than the OECD average of 75%. This is truer of men than women, as 69% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 68% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 466 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 Greece, girls outperformed boys by 19 points, more than the average OECD gap of 8 points.
In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Greece is almost 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is almost 83 years, compared with 78 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 27.3 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, considerably higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Greece also performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 69% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, below the OECD average of 81%, and one of the lowest rates in the OECD.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Greece, where 83% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, lower than the OECD average of 88%, and one of the lowest figures in the OECD. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 64% during recent elections, below 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 71% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 58%, in line with the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.
In general, Greeks are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Greeks gave it a 4.8 grade,the lowest score in the OECD, where average life satisfaction is 6.6. For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.
OECD in Action
OECD Economic Surveys: Greece 2013
OECD's 2013 Economic Survey of Greece examines recent economic developments, prospects and policies. Special chapters cover restoring growth and fairly sharing the social impact of the crisis.Read this report
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Greece in Detail
Housing – Greece expand
Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people’s lives. Housing is essential to meet basic needs, such as shelter, but it is not just a question of four walls and a roof. Housing should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe and have privacy and personal space; somewhere they can raise a family. All of these elements help make a house a home. And of course there is the question whether people can afford adequate housing.
Housing costs take up a large share of the household budget and represent the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families, by the time you add up elements such as rent, gas, electricity, water, furniture or repairs. In Greece, households on average spend 25% of their gross adjusted disposable income on keeping a roof over their heads, one of the highest levels in the OECD, where the average is 18%.
In addition to housing costs it is also important to examine living conditions, such as the average number of rooms shared per person and whether households have access to basic facilities. The number of rooms in a dwelling, divided by the number of persons living there, indicates whether residents are living in crowded conditions. Overcrowded housing may have a negative impact on physical and mental health, relations with others and children’s development. In addition, dense living conditions are often a sign of inadequate water and sewage supply. In Greece, the average home contains 1.2 rooms per person, less than the OECD average of 1.8 rooms per person. In terms of basic facilities, 99.3% of people in Greece live in dwellings with private access to an indoor flushing toilet, more than the OECD average of 97.6%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Income – Greece expand
While money may not buy happiness, it is an important means to achieving higher living standards and thus greater well-being. Higher economic wealth may also improve access to quality education, health care and housing.
Household net-adjusted disposable income is the amount of money that a household earns each year after taxes and transfers. It represents the money available to a household for spending on goods or services. In Greece, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 18 575 a year, much lower than the OECD average of USD 25 908.
Household financial wealth is the total value of a household’s financial worth, such as money or shares held in bank accounts. In Greece, the average household net financial wealth per capita is estimated at USD 14 579, lower than the OECD average of USD 67 139. While the ideal measure of household wealth should also include non-financial assets (e.g. land and dwellings), such information is currently available for only a small number of OECD countries, and is not included here.
Despite a general increase in living standards across OECD countries over the past fifteen years, not all people have benefited from this to the same extent. In Greece, the average net-adjusted disposable income of the top 20% of the population is an estimated USD 36 851 a year, whereas the bottom 20% live on an estimated USD 5 860 a year.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Jobs – Greece expand
Having a job brings many important benefits, including: providing a source of income, improving social inclusion, fulfilling one’s own aspirations, building self-esteem and developing skills and competencies. In Greece, about 49% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. This figure is much lower than the OECD employment average of 65% and the lowest figure in the OECD. Employment rates are generally higher for individuals with a higher level of education; in Greece an estimated 66% of individuals with at least a tertiary education have a paid job, compared with an estimated 36% for those without an upper secondary education. This 30 percentage point difference is smaller than the OECD average of 34 percentage points.
Women are still less likely than men to participate in the labour market. In Greece, 40% of women have jobs. This is much less than the OECD average of 58% and much less than the 58% employment rate of men in Greece. This 18 percentage point gender difference is higher than the OECD average of 15 percentage points and suggests employment opportunities for women in Greece could be improved.
Unemployed persons are defined as those who are not currently working but are willing to do so and actively searching for work. Long-term unemployment can have a large negative effect on feelings of well-being and self-worth and result in a loss of skills, further reducing employability. In Greece, the percentage of the labour force that has been unemployed for a year or longer is currently at almost 18.4%, more than six times the OECD average and the highest rate in the OECD where average unemployment is of 2.8%. There is little difference on average between men and women in the OECD area when it comes to long-term unemployment. In Greece, however, the difference is relatively high with an unemployment rate of 16.1% for men and 21.5% for women.
The wages and other monetary benefits that come with employment are an important aspect of job quality. Greeks earn USD 25 503 per year on average, less than the OECD average of USD 36 118. Not everyone earns that amount however. In all OECD countries, men still earn more than women, with an average wage gap of 15.5%. In Greece, men earn 6.9% more than women. Also, whereas the top 20% of the population earn an estimated USD 31 866 per year, the bottom 20% live on an estimated USD 17 040 per year.
Another essential factor of employment quality is job security. Workers facing a high risk of job loss are more vulnerable, especially in countries with smaller social safety nets. In Greece, workers face a 12.2% chance of losing their job, much higher than the OECD average of 5.4%.
More ResourcesWell‑being in the workplace: Measuring job quality
Community – Greece expand
Humans are social creatures. The frequency of our contact with others and the quality of our personal relationships are thus crucial determinants of our well-being.
A strong social network, or community, can provide emotional support during both good and bad times as well as provide access to jobs, services and other material opportunities. In Greece, 83% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, one of the lowest figures in the OECD where the average is 88%.There is no difference between men and women. While gender has no impact on social network support, there is a clear relationship between the availability of social support on the one hand, and people’s education level, on the other. In Greece, around 73% of people who have completed primary education report having someone to count on for help in times of need, compared to 94% for people who attained tertiary education.
A weak social network can result in limited economic opportunities, a lack of contact with others, and eventually, feelings of isolation. Socially isolated individuals face difficulties integrating into society as a contributing member and fulfilling personal aspirations.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance OECD Insights: Human Capital
Education – Greece expand
A well-educated and well-trained population is essential for a country’s social and economic well-being. Education plays a key role in providing individuals with the knowledge, skills and competences needed to participate effectively in society and in the economy. Having a good education greatly improves the likelihood of finding a job and earning enough money. Greeks can expect to go through 18.6 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, more than the OECD average of 17.7 years of education.
Graduating from upper secondary education has become increasingly important in all countries, as the skills needed in the labour market are becoming more knowledge-based. High-school graduation rates therefore provide a good indication of whether a country is preparing its students to meet the minimum requirements of the job market. In Greece, 68% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, lower than the OECD average of 75%. There is little difference between men and women, as 69% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 68% of women. This 1 percentage point difference is in line with the OECD average. This is also trueat the university level, as the percentage of men and women that complete tertiary education in Greece is almost the same, at 27% and 28% respectively. This 1 percentage point gap is smaller than the OECD average of 4 percentage points.
But graduation rates, while important, speak little to the quality of education received. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reviews the extent to which students have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. In 2012, PISA focused on examining students’ reading ability, skills in maths and level in sciences, as research shows that these skills are more reliable predictors of economic and social well-being than the number of years spent in school.
The average student in Greece scored 466 in reading literacy, maths and sciences, lower than the OECD average of 497. On average, girls outperformed boys by 19 points, more than the average OECD gap of 8 points.
The best-performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all students. In Greece, the average difference in results, between the students with the highest socio-economic background and the students with the lowest socio-economic background, is 99 points, slightly higher than the OECD average of 96 points. This suggests the school system in Greece does not provide equal access to high-quality education for the better off.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Environment – Greece expand
The quality of our local living environment has a direct impact on our health and well-being.
Outdoor air pollution is one important environmental issue that directly affects the quality of people’s lives. Despite national and international interventions and decreases in major pollutant emissions, the health impacts of urban air pollution continue to worsen, with air pollution set to become the top environmental cause of premature mortality globally by 2050. Air pollution in urban centres, often caused by transport and the use of small-scale burning of wood or coal, is linked to a range of health problems, from minor eye irritation to upper respiratory symptoms in the short-term and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer in the long-term. Children and the elderly may be particularly vulnerable.
PM10 – tiny particulate matter small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lung – is monitored in OECD countries because it can harm human health and reduce life expectancy. In Greece, PM10 levels in urban areas are 27.3 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter and higher than the annual guideline limit of 20 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization. The burning of fossil fuels for electricity generation, as well as in the industrial and residential sectors, remains the major source of PM emissions.
Access to clean water is fundamental to human well-being. Despite significant progress in OECD countries in reducing water pollution, improvements in freshwater quality are not always easy to discern. In Greece, 69% of people say they are satisfied with water quality. This figure is one of the lowest in the OECD, where the average satisfaction level is 81%.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Ai Stratis “green island” project
Greece has introduced a set of measures to better align environmental and energy policy with domestic technological development. Green infrastructure projects include the project to develop Ai Stratis as a “green island” – a good example of the development of mature renewable energy and energy-saving technologies.
Ai Stratis is a small island of approximately 300 inhabitants in the northeast Aegean Sea. The aim is to cover the island’s energy needs in a sustainable way using hydro and geothermal energy, photovoltaic cells, wind energy, and biomass power plants. On a country-wide scale, the Energy Efficiency in Household Building Initiative aims to improve the energy efficiency of existing dwellings and to achieve a 20% reduction in energy consumption.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030
Governance – Greece expand
Trust in government is essential for social cohesion and well-being. High voter turnout is a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process. In the most recent elections for which data are available, voter turnout in Greece was 64% of those registered. This figure is lower than the OECD average of 68%.
Even if the right to vote is universal in all OECD countries, not everyone exercises this right. There is little difference in the voting rates of men and women in most OECD countries. This is the case in Greece, where the voter turnout of men and women is similar, at an estimated 63% and 64%. While on average there are few differences between men and women concerning participation in elections, income can make a big difference in voter turnout. In Greece, voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 71%, whereas the participation rate of the bottom 20% is an estimated 58%. This 13 percentage point difference is in line with the OECD average.
In general, women are in the minority among elected representatives and although their number has slightly increased in the last decade, it is still well below parity. In Greece, only 21% of the seats in national parliament are held by women, less than the OECD average of 28%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Health – Greece expand
Most OECD countries have enjoyed large gains in life expectancy over the past decades, thanks to improvements in living conditions, public health interventions and progress in medical care. Life expectancy at birth in Greece is almost 81 years, one year above the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 78 for men, in line with the OECD average gap of five years with a life expectancy of 82 years and 77 years for men. Higher life expectancy is generally associated with higher health care spending per person, although many other factors have an impact on life expectancy (such as living standards, lifestyles, education and environmental factors).
When asked, “How is your health in general?” 74% of people in Greece reported to be in good health, more than the OECD average of 68%. Despite the subjective nature of this question, answers have been found to be a good predictor of people’s future health care use. Gender, age and social status may affect answers to this question. On average in OECD countries, men are more likely to report good health than women, with an average of 70% for men and 66% for women. In Greece, the average is 77% for men and 71% women. Not surprisingly, older people report poorer health, as do those who are unemployed, or who have less education or income. About 83% of adults with a disposable income in the top 20% in Greece rated their health as “good” or “very good”, compared to about 76% for those with a disposable income in the bottom 20%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Life Satisfaction – Greece expand
Happiness or subjective well-being can be measured in terms of life satisfaction, the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and the absence of negative experiences and feelings. Such measures, while subjective, are a useful complement to objective data to compare the quality of life across countries.
Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Greeks gave it a 4.8 grade, the lowest score in the OECD, where average life satisfaction is 6.6.
There is little difference in life satisfaction levels between men and women across OECD countries. This is true in Greece, where men gave their life a 4.6 grade, only slightly lower than the 4.9 grade given by women. When considering people’s education level, however, there is a clear difference in life satisfaction levels in many OECD. Whereas people who have only completed primary education in Greece have a life satisfaction level of 3.5, this score reaches 5.9 for people with tertiary education.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Safety – Greece expand
Personal security is a core element for the well-being of individuals, and includes the risks of people being physically assaulted or falling victim to other types of crime. Across the OECD, assault rates have generally declined in the past five years. In Greece, 3.7% of people reported falling victim to assault over the previous 12 months, slightly less than the OECD average of 3.9%. There is little difference between men and women in assault rates, at respectively 3.6% and 3.8%.
The homicide rate (the number of murders per 100 000 inhabitants) is a more reliable measure of a country’s safety level because, unlike other crimes, murders are usually always reported to the police. According to the latest OECD data, Greece’s homicide rate is 1.6, lower than the OECD average of 4.0. In Greece, the homicide rate for men is 2.6 compared with 0.5 for women.
However, while men are at a greater risk of being victims of assault and violent crime, women report lower feelings of security than men. This has been explained by a greater fear of sexual attacks, the feeling they must also protect their children and their concern that they may be seen as partially responsible.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Work-Life Balance – Greece expand
Finding a suitable balance between work and life is a challenge for all workers, especially working parents. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. Governments can help to address the issue by encouraging supportive and flexible working practices, making it easier for parents to strike a better balance between work and home life.
An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress. The share of employees working 50 hours or more per week is not very large across OECD countries. In Greece, some 6% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%. Overall, more men work very long hours; in Greece 8% of men work very long hours, compared with 4% for women.