Did you know?

indicator value unit
Population 62.2 mil.
Visitors per year 29.8 mil.
Renewable energy 3.33 %

How’s Life?

The United Kingdom performs well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In the United Kingdom, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 25 828 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly six times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, over 71% of people aged 15 to 64 in the United Kingdom have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 76% of men are in paid work, compared with 66% of women. People in the United Kingdom work 1 654 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. About 12% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 9%, with 18% of men working very long hours compared with just 6% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In the United Kingdom, 77% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 75%. This is truer of men than women, as 79% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 74% of women. This difference is larger than the OECD average gap and suggests women’s participation in higher education could be strengthened. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 502 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), higher than the OECD average of 497. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in the United Kingdom, boys and girls performed equally. In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the United Kingdom is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 12.8 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The United Kingdom also does well in terms of water quality, as 92% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, more than the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and a moderate level of civic participation in the United Kingdom, where 94% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 66% during recent elections. This figure is lower than the OECD average of 72%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 73% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 50%, a broader difference than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points, suggesting there is room for broader social inclusion in the United Kingdom’s democratic institutions.

In general, people in the United Kingdom are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 74% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc.) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.). This figure is lower than the OECD average of 76%.

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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys United Kingdom 2015

This OECD Economic Survey of the United Kingdom examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover improving infrastructure and ensuring sustainable bank lending.

Read this report

Find Out More

United Kingdom in Detail