The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Korea as the 24th happiest nation out of 36 participating countries Tuesday based on its annual Better Life Index.
The country’s living environment and quality of life were taken into account as the index is based on 11 categories including housing, income, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, and work-life balance.
In Korea, the average household disposable income (DPI) is $16,570 (about 19.3 million won), which is vastly lower than the OECD average of $22,387. Also, 62 percent of people are satisfied with their current lives, which is a great improvement from last year’s score of only 36 percent, but still substantially lower than the OECD average of 72 percent.
Other areas in which Korea scores amongst the lowest are work-life, jobs and environment.
People in Korea work 2,193 hours on average per year, more than 444 hours (approximately 25 percent more) than the OECD average of 1,749. In addition, the employment rate of economically active 15 to 64-year-olds fell below the OECD average of 66 percent to 63.
This figure places Korea’s employment rate in 23rd place.
Air pollution in Korea measured at 31 micrograms per cubic metre significantly higher than the OECD average of 22 micrograms per cubic metre.
On the bright side, Korea earned high marks in education and safety.
About 80 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 possess the equivalent of a high school diploma, which is 6 percent higher than the OECD average. The average student achievement score, based on sentence comprehension, mathematics and science, is 541 points, which is 44 points higher than the OECD average of 497 points.
In Korea, 75 percent of people feel safe walking alone at night, higher than the OECD average of 67 percent. And, the assault rate in Korea is 2.1 percent, lower than the OECD average of 4 percent.
The average life expectancy of Koreans is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average. Of course, it differs by gender; men have a life expectancy of 77 years while women will likely live until 84.
The survey does not name a nation as ranking highest, but if all fields were given equal weight, Australia would emerge on top. The commonwealth nation maintained its top spot from last year with Norway, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands and New Zealand trailing close behind. Japan fell two places from its rank of 21 last year.
The Better Life Index was launched last year as part of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Forum and ministerial celebrations in Paris. The OECD aims to promote international economic cooperation and growth, and sponsors policies that will improve the social well-being of people around the world. The Better Life Index goes beyond the traditional gross domestic product (GDP) numbers as an indicator of measuring happiness.
The OECD’s 34 member states increased to 36 with this year’s addition of Brazil and China.