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indicator value unit
Population 67.1 mil.
Visitors per year 31.1 mil.
Renewable energy 4.5 %

How’s Life?

The United Kingdom performs well in many dimensions of well-being relative to other countries in the Better Life Index. The United Kingdom outperforms the average in income, jobs, education, social connections, safety and life satisfaction. It underperforms average in environmental quality and civic engagement. These assessments are based on available selected data.

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 USD 33 049 a year, more than the OECD average of USD 30 490 a year.

In terms of employment, about 75% of people aged 15 to 64 in the United Kingdom have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 79% of men are in paid work, compared with 72% of women. In the United Kingdom, 11% of employees work very long hours in paid work, slightly above the OECD average of 10%, with 15% of men working very long hours in paid work compared with 6% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In the United Kingdom, 82% 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 81% of men have successfully completed high school compared with 83% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 503 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 the United Kingdom, girls outperformed boys by 2 points, well below the average OECD gap of 5 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the United Kingdom is around 81 years, the same as the OECD average. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 10.1 micrograms per cubic meter, below the OECD average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter. In the United Kingdom, 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 strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in the United Kingdom, where 93% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more than the OECD average of 91%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 68% during recent elections, slightly lower 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 66% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 45%.

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, British people gave it a 6.8 grade on average, slightly higher 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: United Kingdom

OECD’s periodic surveys of the British 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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United Kingdom in Detail