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indicator value unit
Population 24.9 mil.
Visitors per year 6.1 mil.
Renewable energy 4.6 %

How’s Life?

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

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Australia, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 32 759 a year, less than the OECD average of USD 33 604 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, around 73% of people aged 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 68% of women. In Australia, 13% of employees work very long hours, above the OECD average of 11%, with 19% of men working very long hours compared with just 6% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Australia, 81% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%. This is truer of men than women, as 82% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 80% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 502 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in Australia, girls outperformed boys by 8 points, above the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Australia is around 83 years, three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 85 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 5.2 micrograms per cubic meter, the lowest rate in the OECD where the average is 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Australia also does well in terms of water quality, as 93% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Australia, 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 91% during recent elections. This figure is one of the highest in the OECD, where the average is 68% and reflects the  practice of compulsory voting in Australia. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 95% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 89%, a much narrower difference than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, Australians 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, Australians gave it a 7.3 grade on averagehigher 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 Australia 2017

This 2017 OECD Economic Survey of Australia examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover innovation-driven productivity and boosting R&D outcomes.

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