Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
When asked, 75% of people in Australia said they were satisfied with their life, much higher than the OECD average of 59%.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Australia, the average household earned US$27, 039 in 2008, more than the OECD average of US$22, 284 a year.
In terms of employment, nearly 72% of people aged 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. People in Australia work 1,690 hours a year, less than most people in the OECD who work an average of 1,739 hours.
The index also found that 71% of mothers are employed after their children begin school, above the OECD average of 66%, suggesting that women are able to successfully balance family and career.
Having a good education is an important requisite to finding a job. In Australia, 70% of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high school diploma, lower than the OECD average of 73%.
Australia though is a top performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 515 out of 600 in reading ability according to the latest PISA student assessment programme, higher than the OECD average of 493.
In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Australia is 81.5 years, more than two years above the OECD average. The level of atmospheric PM10, the tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs, is 14 micrograms per cubic meter, much lower than OECD average of 22 micrograms per cubic meter.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Australia. Some 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91%.
Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 95% during recent elections. This figure is the highest in the OECD. The average is 72%.