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indicator value unit
Population 1.9 mil.
Visitors per year 6.2 mil.
Renewable energy %

How’s Life?

Latvia has made rapid progress in adjusting its economy since the economic crisis, as illustrated by its successful entry to the euro area at the beginning of 2014. Unemployment has come down considerably, but long-term unemployment and emigration remain issues. Latvia performs well in few measures of well-being in the Better Life Index, ranking above the average in education and skills, work-life balance, and environmental quality. It is below the average in income and wealth, jobs and earnings, housing, health status, social connections, civic engagement, , personal security, and subjective well-being. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Latvia, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 16 275 a year, much lower than the OECD average of USD 33 604  a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly seven times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 70% of people aged 15 to 64 in Latvia have a paid job, slightly above the OECD employment average of 68%. Some 72% of men are in paid work, compared with 68% of women. In Latvia, just over 1% of employees work very long hours, considerably less than the OECD average of 11%, with some 2% of men working very long hours compared with just under 1% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Latvia, 88% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%. This is truer of women than men, as nearly 91% of women have successfully completed high-school compared with 84% of men. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 487 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly more than the OECD average of 486 points. On average in Latvia, girls outperformed boys by 18 points, much higher than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Latvia is 75 years, five years below the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 80 years, compared with 70 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 10.6 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Latvia performs slightly below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 79% 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 a moderate level of civic participation in Latvia, where 86% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, less than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 59% during recent elections, lower than the OECD average of 68%.

In general, Latvians are 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, Latvians gave it a 5.9 grade on average, 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: Latvia

OECD’s periodic surveys of the Latvian 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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Latvia in Detail