Australia ranks first in the world for wellbeing, says OECD

by Ray Clancy on October 24, 2014

in Australia

Australia is the best country in the world to live and Canberra the best city, according to a global study that ranks nations according to wellbeing.

The latest updated version of the regional analysis from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranks 34 countries according to nine measures of well-being.


Australia ranked first for wellbeing among 34 OECD countries

It looked at 362 regions of its 34 member nations and gave gold to Australia ahead of Norway, Canada, Sweden and the United States in the country rankings while Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico offered the most difficult living conditions.

The list scored each of the member countries’ regions and territories on education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, housing and access to services including broadband availability.

Australia’s top score, a perfect 10, came in civic engagement. This is most likely a result of Australia’s national compulsory voting laws. Its lowest score was in education, which was measured as a proportion of the population that finishes high school.

It shows that New South Wales and Victoria are among the worst in Australia when it comes to housing, coming sixth and seven out of eight regions measured.

But ACT scored 10 out of 10 for income and the ACT’s average income is the highest of the any of the developed nation regions identified by the OECD. It also scored 9.6 for access to services, 9.6 for jobs and 9.5 for environment.

The OECD believes regions in the world that are similar to the ACT include western Norway, New Hampshire and Stockholm.

NSW scored 7.1 out of 10 for income and Victoria, just 6.4. But Victoria was better for jobs, at 8.5 compared to 8.3, and safety at 9.6 compared to 9.2.

Even the low-performing regions in Australia fare better than the OECD average in all nine of the well-being measures. But education is a big exception with the data, showing that the share of the workforce with at least a secondary degree was in the bottom 20% of regions. Overall, Australia is 13 percentage points lower than the OECD average.

Australia also has the fourth largest regional disparity in health and the fifth largest disparity in safety among OECD countries. The OECD points out that large regional disparities in education, health, jobs and key services can damage economic growth, and lower well-being outcomes at a national level.

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