OECD Better Life Index

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OECD Better Life Index 

How’s Life?

France performs well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. France ranksabove the average in income and wealth, housing, health status, civic engagement, work-life balance and personal security. It ranks below average in subjective well-being, environmental quality, social connections, education and skills, and jobs and earnings. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In France, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 31 137 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn close to five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, about 65% of people aged 15 to 64 in France have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 61% of women. Almost 8% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 11% of men working very long hours compared with 5% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In France, 78% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 74%.This is slightly truer of men than women, as 79% of men have successfully completed high school compared with 78% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 496 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in France, girls outperformed boys by 7 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in France is 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 86 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 13.4 micrograms per cubic meter, almost in line with the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. France also performs well in terms of water quality, as 82% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, broadly in line with the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in France, where 88% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, broadly in line with the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 75% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 69%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 78% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 70% less than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, French people are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, French people gave it a 6.4 grade on average, broadly in line with the OECD average of 6.5.