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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 above the average in almost all the dimensions (subjective well-being, jobs and earnings, housing, work-life balance, environmental quality, civic engagement, social connections, health status, and personal security).

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 33 492 a year, more 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 four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, over 75% of people aged 15 to 64 in Norway have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD. Some 77% of men are in paid work, compared with 74% of women. In Norway,only 3% of employees work very long hours, much less than the OECD average of 13%, with 4% of men working very long hours compared with just 1% for 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 75%. This is equally true of men and women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 496 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Norway, girls outperformed boys by 16 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 8 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 80 years, compared with 84 for women. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 16.1 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Norway also does well in terms of water quality, as 94% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with the OECD average of 81%.

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, higher than the OECD average of 88%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 78% 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 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 7.4 grade, higher than the OECD of 6.6. For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Norway 2014

This 2014 OECD Economic Survey of Norway examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover real estate markets and financial risk and entrepreneurship.

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Norway in Detail