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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 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, and jobs and earnings.

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 22 007 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 earn close to seven times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 57% of people aged 15 to 64 in Spain have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 62% of men are in paid work, compared with 52% of women. In Spain, nearly 6% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 8% of men working very long hours compared with just 3% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Spain, 57% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 76%. This is truer of women than men, as 55% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 58% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 490 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Spain, girls outperformed boys by 1 point, much lower than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

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 11.6 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 14.05 micrograms per cubic meter. Spain performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 71% 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 96% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 88%, and one of the highest figures in the OECD. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 73% during recent elections; this figure is 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 81% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 70%, a slightly narrower gap than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Spaniards are slightly 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, the Spanish gave it a 6.4 grade, lower than 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.

Read this report

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Spain in Detail