Lots of things go into quality of life, and they’re different in different countries. While people in Norway enjoy extremely clean air and water, people in the US enjoy hefty paychecks.
But these are just two ingredients for a good life, as documented by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation in their new Better Life Index.
The index ranks the quality of life in 34 countries, across 23 parameters in 11 different categories.
The OECD adjusted each score to show how much it falls above or below the average of the 34 countries. The high scores are in blue, which rise above 1. And the low scores are in red, which fall below -1. The chart also highlights those closer to the zero average in grey.
Here are scores from six countries, with more analysis below.
According to the data, people in the US feel satisfied with their lives and earn a lot of money, but they tend to overwork. Those in France and Norway also feel satisfied, but also have plenty of time off.
While money doesn’t buy happiness, people who live in nations with higher incomes certainly report feeling happier. The US ranks high in areas of financial wealth, where people earn an average household disposable income of $US41,355 per year. But the country falls way below average when it comes to vacation time.
Mexico and Turkey sit at the bottom of the list. In Turkey, a country with an emerging economy, people report low levels of employment, sanitation, and time off from work. Mexico ranks even lower, in part due to its high crime rates, low social support, and poor education.
The OECD only studied a handful of countries, which means that it doesn’t actually reflect the entire world.
The Pew Research Center found that a majority of the countries measured by the OECD experience a high quality of life — 19 out of 34 fall within the OECD’s classification of a “good life.”
So life is actually pretty good in most of these countries.
There are some things, like basic education and clean water, that are undeniable facets of a good life. But based on the data, overall life satisfaction is subjective. People who live in Mexico, which lies at the bottom of the index, still say they feel more satisfied than South Korea, which hangs at number 21 in the rankings. Perhaps the more status-oriented a culture is, the less satisfied the people are.
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