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indicator value unit
Population 5.1 mil.
Visitors per year 2.5 mil.
Renewable energy 46.9 %

How’s Life?

Norway performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Norway ranks top in personal security and subjective well-being and ranks above the average in environmental quality, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, education and skills, housing, work-life balance, civic engagement, social connections, and health status. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Norway, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 35 739 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn close to four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, about 74% of people aged 15 to 64 in Norway have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 67%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD. Some 76% of men are in paid work, compared with 73% of womenIn Norway, about 3% of employees work very long hours, much less than the OECD average of 13%, with 5% of men working very long hours compared with just 1% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Norway, 82% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 74%. This is slightly truer for women than men, as 82% of men have successfully completed high-school compared to 83% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 504 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in Norway, girls outperformed boys by 13 points, wider than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Norway is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for men is 81 years, compared with 84 for women. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 4.6 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Norway also does well in terms of water quality, as 96% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with the OECD average of 81%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Norway, where 94% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 78% 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 72%, in line with the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Norwegians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Norwegians gave it a 7.6 grade on average, much higher than the OECD of 6.5. 

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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Norway 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of Norway examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Higher education; Agriculture and rural policy.

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Norway in Detail