OECD Better Life Index

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OECD Better Life Index 

How’s Life?

France performs well in many measures of 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 France, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 29 322 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 938 USD 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, 64% of people aged 15 to 64 in France have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 60% of women. People in France work 1 479 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. . Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. Around 9% of employees work very long hours, in line with the OECD average, with 12% of men working very long hours compared with 5% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In France, 72% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 75%. There is little difference between men and women, as 73% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 71% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 500 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is slightly higher than the OECD average of 497. On average in France, girls outperformed boys by 13 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in France is 82 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 PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 11.9 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. France also performs well in terms of water quality, as 85% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, just above the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in France, where 91% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 80% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 72%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 89% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 79%, slightly less than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points.

In general, French people are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 79% 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 slightly higher than the OECD average of 76%.


6.4 /10
5.0 /10
6.5 /10
8.2 /10
8.4 /10
Civic engagement
4.3 /10
7.9 /10
Life Satisfaction
6.4 /10
8.3 /10
Work-Life Balance
7.6 /10