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indicator value unit
Population 4.6 mil.
Visitors per year 6.0 mil.
Renewable energy 4.36 %

How’s Life?

Ireland performs well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top ten 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 Ireland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 23 721 USD a year, less than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn more than five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, some 59% of people aged 15 to 64 in Ireland have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 62% of men are in paid work, compared with 55% of women. People in Ireland work 1 529 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. About 4% of employees work very long hours, much lower than the OECD average of 9%, with 7% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Ireland, 73% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 75%. In contrast to the overall OECD experience, more women have graduated high school than men, as 70% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 76% of women. In terms of the quality of its education system, the average student scored 516 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), above the OECD average of 497. On average in Ireland, girls outperformed boys by 3 points, less than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Ireland 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 PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 12.8 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Ireland also performs well in terms of water quality, as 84% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, in line with the OECD average.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Ireland, where 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 70% during recent elections, below the OECD average of 72%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 69% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 67%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Ireland’s democratic institutions.

In general, Irish people are slightly more 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 slightly higher than the OECD average of 76%.

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


OECD in Action

Employment and Skills Strategies in Ireland

Employment and Skills Strategies in Ireland focuses on the role of local employment and training agencies in contributing to job creation and productivity. This report looks at the range of institutions and bodies involved in employment and skills policies, focusing on local activities in the Dublin and South East regions.

Read this report

Find Out More

Ireland in Detail