Latvia

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indicator value unit
Population 2.0 mil.
Visitors per year 6.2 mil.
Renewable energy %

How’s Life?

Latvia has made rapid progress in adjusting its economy since the economic crisis, as illustrated by its successful entry to the euro area at the beginning of 2014. Unemployment has come down considerably, but long-term unemployment and emigration remain issues. Latvia performs well in few measures of well-being in the Better Life Index, ranking above the average in education and skills. It is below the average in income and wealth, jobs and earnings, housing, health status, social connections, civic engagement, work-life balance, personal security, and subjective well-being.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Latvia, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 13 655 a year, less than the OECD average of USD 29 016 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population nearly seven times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 66% of people aged 15 to 64 in Latvia have a paid job, in line with the OECD employment average. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 64% of women. In Latvia, only about 2% of employees work very long hours, considerably less than the OECD average of 13%, with 3% of men working very long hours compared with 2% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Latvia, nearly 90% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 76%. This is truer of women than men, as nearly 93% of women have successfully completed high-school compared with 86% of men. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 494 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly less than the OECD average of 497 points. On average in Latvia, girls outperformed boys by 24 points, much higher the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Latvia is 74 years, six years below the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 79 years, compared with 69 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 12.1 micrograms per cubic meter, better than the OECD average of 14.05 micrograms per cubic meter. Latvia performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 76% 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 a moderate level of civic participation in Latvia, where 84% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, below the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 59% during recent elections. This figure is lower than the OECD average of 68%.

In general, Latvians 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, Latvians gave it a 5.9 grade, 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: Latvia 2015

This OECD Economic Survey of Latvia examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover improving public sector efficiency and raising productivity.

Read this report

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Latvia in Detail