Special Report

Rich Countries With the Best and Worst Life Satisfaction

“How’s life?” asks the headline on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s evaluation of the quality of life among the world’s richest countries. As its survey reveals, that assessment is more than just about income and jobs.

The overall OECD Better Life Index is based on 11 topics the organization deems essential in the areas of material living, such as income and jobs, and quality of life, including education, civic engagement, and safety.

To identify the rich countries with the best and worst life satisfaction, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the OECD Better Life Index. We ranked the 40, mostly wearlthy, nations based specifically on the life satisfaction indicator — that is, people’s evaluation of their life — in the Better Life Index.

The findings of the report indicate life is getting better in most of the countries surveyed. Across OECD countries, life expectancy has risen by more than one year, with the average baby born today expected to live 80 years. The average homicide rate among OECD nations has dropped by a third since 2010, and people say they feel safer at night in their neighborhoods. Fewer households live in overcrowded conditions. And employment and average household incomes have both increased since 2010.

Countries that are traditionally associated with high levels of well-being, such as Nordic countries, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland, also have the highest life satisfaction, all scoring at least 7.3 out of 10. These countries also do well in health measures, recording some of the longest life expectancies among OECD nations and among the top shares of self-reported good health. (Find out if any of the countries with the best life satisfaction are also among the happiest countries in the world.)

At the opposite end are Turkey, South Africa, and Russia, which scored 5.5 or lower in life satisfaction. Russia and South Africa also report the lowest and second lowest life expectancy at birth, while Turkey has the 11th lowest life expectancy.

While the U.S. has the highest gross annual wage for full-time employees, it ranks only 15th in life satisfaction, scoring 7 out of 10. Though life expectancy at birth in the U.S. ranks 13th lowest, the share of adults self-reporting good health is second highest. Voter turnout is also in the lower half of countries. (Find out if the U.S. is the richest country in the world.)

Click here for the rich countries with the best and worst quality of life
Click here for our detailed methodology

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