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indicator value unit
Population 61.2 mil.
Visitors per year 76.3 mil.
Renewable energy 13.2 %

How’s Life?

Italy performs well in few measures of well-being in the Better Life Index. Italy ranks above the average in work-life balance and health status, but below average in civic engagement, housing, subjective well-being, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, and education and skills.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Italy, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 25 166 a year, slightly 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 close to six times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 56% of people aged 15 to 64 in Italy have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 66% of men are in paid work, compared with 47% of women. In Italy, almost 4% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 5% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% for women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Italy, 57% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, below the OECD average of 75%. This is truer of women than men, as 56% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 59% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 490 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Italy, girls outperformed boys by 6 points, less than average OECD gender gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Italy is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 85 years, compared with 80 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 20.6 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, slightly higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Italy could do better in terms of water quality, as 71% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, below the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Italy, where 90% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 75% 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 85% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 73%, slightly narrower than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Italians 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, Italians gave it a 6.0 grade, lower 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 in Action

OECD Economic Surveys Italy 2015

This OECD Economic Survey of Italy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover labour market reform and more and better quality jobs.

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