Did you know?

indicator value unit
Population 51.2 mil.
Visitors per year 11.1 mil.
Renewable energy 0.7 %

How’s Life?

Korea performs well across a number of well-being dimensions relative to other countries in the Better Life Index. Korea outperforms the average in education, health and civic engagement. It underperforms average in  environmental quality, social connections and life satisfaction. These assessments are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Korea, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 24 590 a year, less than the OECD average of USD 30 490 a year.

In terms of employment, about the same amount of people aged 15 to 64 in Korea have a paid job as the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 75% of men are in paid work, compared with 57% of women. In Korea, more employees work very long hours in paid work than the OECD average of 10%.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Korea, 89% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 79%. However, completion varies between men and women, as 92% of men have successfully completed high school compared with 87% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 520 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 488. On average in Korea, girls outperformed boys by 5 points, smilar to the average OECD gap.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Korea is around 83 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 81 years. 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 27.3 micrograms per cubic meter, well above the OECD average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter. In Korea, 82% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, lower than the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Korea, where 80% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, less than the OECD average of 91%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 77% during recent elections, 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 76% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 77%.

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Koeans gave it a 5.8 grade on average, lower than the OECD average of 6.7.


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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Korea

OECD’s periodic surveys of the Korean 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.

Read this report

Find Out More

Korea in Detail