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indicator value unit
Population 311.6 mil.
Visitors per year 171.6 mil.
Renewable energy 6.3 %

How’s Life?

The United States performs well in many dimensions of well-being relative to other countries in the Better Life Index. The United States outperforms the average in income, jobs, education, 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 the United States, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 51 147 a year, much more than the OECD average of USD 30 490 a year.

In terms of employment, about 67% of people aged 15 to 64 in the United States have a paid job, slightly above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 72% of men are in paid work, compared with 62% of women. In the United States, 10% of employees work very long hours in paid work, the same as the OECD average of 10%, with 14% of men working very long hours in paid work compared with 7% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In the United States, 92% 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 91% of men have successfully completed high school compared with 92% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 495 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 States, girls outperformed boys by 5 points, as the average OECD gap.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the United States is around 79 years, two years lower than the OECD average of 81 years. Life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 7.7 micrograms per cubic meter, below the OECD average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter. In the United States, 88% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher 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 States, where 94% 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 65% during recent elections, 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 77% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 51%.

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Americans gave it a 7 grade on average, 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 States

OECD’s periodic surveys of the United States 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 States in Detail