IRELAND ranks among the top 10 countries in a “better life index” and almost three quarters of people are happy with their life, according to research measuring well-being and progress across 34 nations.
The mammoth OECD study draws on a range of factors from disposable income to health to community spirit and tells us although Ireland has recently experienced a “severe setback in living standards”, people nevertheless enjoy a good quality of life.
When asked, 73% of people in Ireland said they were satisfied with their life, well above the OECD average of 59%.
People in Ireland devote 64% of their day, or 15.2 hours, to eating, sleeping and leisure, including socialising with friends and family, hobbies, games, computer and television use, very close to the OECD average.
According to the report, while money cannot buy happiness it is an important means to achieving higher living standards.
In Ireland, the money available to a household for spending on goods or services was a little more than €17,000 compared to the OECD average of €15,800.
In terms of employment, while almost 60% of people aged 15 to 64 in Ireland have a paid job, this is less than the OECD average of 65%.
But people in Ireland work less — 190 fewer hours a year than most in the OECD, who work 1,739 hours per year.
The study also finds the Irish have a very strong sense of community but just moderate levels of civic participation.
And 97% of people believe they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91%.
Nearly 59% reported having helped a stranger in the last month, one of the highest rates in the OECD.
Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 67% during recent elections. The OECD average is 72%.
Having a good education is also one of the reasons why Ireland rates so highly. About 70% of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school diploma, close to the OECD average of 73%. As to the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 496 out of 600 in reading ability according to the latest student assessment programme, very close to the OECD average of 493.
In terms of health, Irish people are living longer, with life expectancy at 80 years, slightly above the OECD average, while the level of atmospheric PM10 — tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs — is 13 micrograms per cubic meter and is lower than in most OECD countries where it stands at 22.
Crime in Ireland is similar to averages across the other 33 countries, with 3% of people reported falling victim to assault over the previous 12 months, lower than the average of 4%, while 27% of people feel unsafe on the street after dark, higher than the OECD average of 26%.
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