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indicator value unit
Population 0.3 mil.
Visitors per year 0.5 mil.
Renewable energy 83.43 %

How’s Life?

Iceland performs very well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Iceland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is lower than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year.

In terms of employment, some 79% of people aged 15 to 64 in Iceland have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 81% of men are in paid work, compared with 77% of women. People in Iceland work 1 732 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 776 hours.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Iceland, 67% 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 than women, as 67% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 66% of women. Iceland performs well in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 501 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 Iceland, girls outperformed boys by 13 points, a wider gender gap than the OECD average of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Iceland is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 81 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 16 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. Iceland also does well in terms of water quality, as 97% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, considerably higher than the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Iceland, where 98% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 85% during recent elections; among the highest in the OECD where the average is 72%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 88% and for the bottom 20% it is 77%, slightly narrower than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points.

In general, Icelanders are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 87% 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 higher than the OECD average of 80%.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Iceland 2013

OECD's 2013 Economic Survey of Iceland examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. It includes a special feature on reinforcing the public debt reduction strategy.

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Iceland in Detail