The How’s Life? report on wellbeing from the OECD thinktank attempts to count the human cost of the global financial crisis. The wide-ranging report ranks countries on a range of criteria from housing and health to crime and social engagement.
Income inequality was highest in Chile, Mexico and the Russian Federation – and lowest in Eastern European and Nordic countries. The UK’s income inequality was above the OECD average and has risen over the last 15 years.
Life satisfaction is highest in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. People in Hungary, Portugal and Greece report the lowest levels of life satisfaction. In the UK satisfaction rates are higher than before the crisis, with 64% British people declaring being very satisfied with their lives.
Life expectancy is highest in Switzerland followed by Italy, Japan and Spain.
Work-life balance is deemed worst in Turkey, by far and away the country with the highest proportion of employees working very long hours. Mexico and Israel are next and the UK is also ahead of the OECD average. In the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, very long working hours are rare.
Leisure time is highest in Norway and Denmark and lowest in France and Japan.
Education is the UK’s weakest area when compared with other OECD countries. The UK is only just above average for educational attainment and behind 19 other countries. It is below average for educational expectancy – the average duration of education a five-year-old can expect to get by the age of 39. Teenage students’ average score in reading, mathematics and science in the UK is above average but behind 14 other countries, with Finland and Korea top. Numeracy and literacy levels among adults in the UK are below the OECD averages but ahead of those in the US.
Health was again a stand-out area for Switzerland. In 2011, the percentage of adults reporting good or very good health was 85% or more in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, but only half as high in Korea and Portugal. Japan ranked last with only one in three respondents reporting being in “good” or “very good” health.
Employment rates increase with education but some countries do better than others on offering equal job chances. Since 2000 the employment gap between people with tertiary education and people with below upper secondary education has remained stable on average in the OECD area. But it has increased substantially in Slovenia, the UK, Sweden, Iceland and Korea.
Homicide rates are low in most countries and the OECD average is 2.23 homicides per 100,000 people. They are, however, more than twice as high in the United States and even higher in Mexico, Brazil and in the Russian Federation. Iceland, Japan and Norway are the least likely places to get murdered. Over the last 10 years Mexico’s homicide rate has almost doubled.
Housing conditions vary greatly between countries. In Canada, Belgium, Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands, households report on average two or more rooms per person. In Turkey, Hungary and Poland, however, people live in smaller houses with one room per person or less. The UK is above average on this.
Social support networks appear to be weakest in Turkey, Mexico, Korea and Greece, and strongest in Iceland, Ireland, the UK and Switzerland.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk