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indicator value unit
Population 4.8 mil.
Visitors per year 6.0 mil.
Renewable energy 6.1 %

How’s Life?

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

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Ireland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 25 310 a year, lower 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 almost five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, some 67% of people aged 15 to 64 in Ireland have a paid job, slightly below the OECD employment average of 68%. Some 73% of men are in paid work, compared with 62% of women. In Ireland, some 5% of employees work very long hours, much less than the OECD average of 11%, with 8% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Ireland, 82% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, above the OECD average of 78%. This is truer of women than men, as 79% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 85% of women. In terms of the quality of its education system, the average student scored 509 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), above the OECD average of 486. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Ireland boys scored 4 points higher than girls.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 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 7.1 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Ireland also performs well in terms of water quality, as 85% 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 moderate levels of civic participation in Ireland, where 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, one of the highest rates in the OECD, where the average is 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 65% during recent elections, lower than the OECD average of 68%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 69% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 61%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Ireland's democratic institutions.

In general, Irish people 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, Irish people gave it a 7.0 grade on average, higher 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: Ireland

OECD’s periodic surveys of the Irish economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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Ireland in Detail