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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 income and wealth, work-life balance, social connections and health status, but below average in civic engagement, housing, subjective well-being, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, personal security, and education and skills. These rankings are based on available selected data.

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 26 063 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 30 563 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, 57% of people aged 15 to 64 in Italy have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 66% of men are in paid work, compared with 48% 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% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Italy, 60% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, below the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 58% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 62% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 485 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly lower than the OECD average of 486. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Italy boys scored 7 points higher than girls on average. In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Italy is 83 years, three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years, and one of the highest in the OECD. Life expectancy for women is 85 years, compared with 80 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 18.3 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 13.9 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 91% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, broadly in line with the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 75% during recent elections; higher than the OECD average of 69%. 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 5.9 grade on average, much lower than the OECD average of 6.5.

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 2017

This 2017 OECD Economic Survey of Italy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover raising business investment and enhancing skills.

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