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indicator value unit
Population 127.5 mil.
Visitors per year 8.6 mil.
Renewable energy 3.42 %

How’s Life?

Japan performs well in many measures of well-being, and ranks close to the average or higher in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Japan, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 25 066 USD a year, more 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 six times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 71% of people aged 15 to 64 in Japan have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 80% of men are in paid work, compared with 61% of women, suggesting that women encounter difficulties in balancing work and family life. People in Japan work 1 745 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. Japan is a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 540 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is much higher than the OECD average of 497, making Japan one of the strongest OECD country in students’ skills. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Japan boys scored 2 points higher than girls on average. In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Japan is almost 83 years, three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 86 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 24.1 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Japan does better in terms of water quality, as 86% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with an OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Japan, where 90% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, slightly 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 59% during recent elections; below the OECD average of 72%. There is no difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout is the same for the top 20% of the population and the bottom 20%, suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Japan’s democratic institutions.

In general; the Japanese are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 86% 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 76%.

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

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