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indicator value unit
Population 46.1 mil.
Visitors per year 99.2 mil.
Renewable energy 11.9 %

How’s Life?

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

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Spain, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 23 129 a year, less 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 seven times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 60% of people aged 15 to 64 in Spain have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 66% of men are in paid work, compared with 55% of women. In Spain, close to 5% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, nearly 7% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Spain, 58% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 56% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 61% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 491 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly higher than the OECD average of 486. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Spain boys outperformed girls by 1 point on average.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Spain 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 86 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 11.5 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Spain performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 73% 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 moderate levels of civic participation in Spain, where 95% 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 70% during recent elections, slightly 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 77% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 67%, a slightly narrower gap than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Spaniards are generally satisfied with their lives. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, the Spanish gave it a 6.4 grade on average, broadly in line with the OECD average of 6.5.

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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Spain 2017

This 2017 OECD Economic Survey of Spain examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover improving job quality and innovative business investment.

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Spain in Detail