Special Report

Rich Countries With the Best and Worst Life Satisfaction


To identify the rich countries with the best and worst life satisfaction, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index and ranked countries — 40 mostly wealthy nations — based on the life satisfaction indicator, that is, people’s evaluation of their life in the quality of life index.

The OECD explains that the life satisfaction indicator is a weighted-sum of different response categories based on people’s rates of their current life relative to the best and worst possible lives for them on a scale from 0 to 10, using the Cantril Ladder (known also as the “Self-Anchoring Striving Scale”) Unit of measurement: Mean value (Cantril Ladder).

We also included two health measures from the OECD’s index: self-reported health indicator, which refers to the percentage of the population aged 15 years old and over who reported “good” or better health, and life expectancy at birth. Life expectancy at birth measures how long on average people could expect to live based on the age-specific death rates currently prevailing and refers to people born today. It is computed as a weighted average of life expectancy for men and women.

Voter turnout is defined as the ratio between the number of individuals who cast a ballot during an election (whether this vote is valid or not) to the population registered to vote. As institutional features of voting systems vary significantly across countries and across types of elections, the indicator refers to the elections (parliamentary or presidential) that have attracted the largest number of voters in each country.

Average gross annual earnings of full-time employees, also from the OECD index, refers to the average annual wages per full-time equivalent dependent employee. It considers the employees’ gross remuneration, before any deductions for taxes, contributions to social security, pension, life insurance, union dues, and other obligations. It is expressed in U.S. dollars at 2020 using the purchasing power parity method.

Population data was obtained from the World Bank and is for the most recent year for which data is available.

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