Wednesday 17 January 2018

Forget the recession, we are the fifteenth happiest nation on earth according to the OECD


IRELAND is the fifteenth happiest place to live in the world – according to a landmark international study.

Overall Australia is ranked as the world’s happiest nation followed by Norway, the USA, Sweden, Denmark and Canada.

The results emerge from an online index pulling together a information about everything from health, crime and income levels to “work-life balance” across the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Our nearest neighbours in the UK are marginally happier with their lot, coming in at no 11 in the study.

Ireland performs very well in overall well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top ten countries in several topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Ireland, the average person earns $24 156 USD a year, more than the OECD average of $22 387 USD a year.

But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20pc of the population earn more than four times as much as the bottom 20pc.

In terms of employment, some 60pc of people aged 15 to 64 in Ireland have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66pc. Some 64pc of men are in paid work, compared with 56pc of women.

People in Ireland work 1,664 hours a year, less than most people in the OECD who work 1,749 hours on average. Almost 4pc of employees work very long hours, much lower than the OECD average of 9pc, with 6pc of men working very long hours compared with just 1pc for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Ireland, 72pc of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 74pc.

In contrast to the overall OECD experience, more women have graduated high school than men, as 68pc of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 75pc of women.

In terms of the quality of its education system, the average student scored 497 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), in line with the OECD average. On average in Ireland, girls outperformed boys by 12 points, slightly more than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 81 years, higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men.

The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs –is 13 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 22 micrograms per cubic meter.

Ireland also does well in terms of water quality, as 89pc of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with an OECD average of 85pc.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and moderate levels of civic participation in Ireland, where 98pc of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91pc.

Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens' participation in the political process, was 67pc during recent elections, below the OECD average of 73pc.

There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20pc of the population is 65pc and for the bottom 20pc it is 68pc, suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Ireland’s democratic institutions

In general; Irish people are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 77pc of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 72pc.

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