A study published yesterday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that “Canada performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being,” according to an online report. On a range of measures — housing, income, health and safety — Canada scored among the world’s best-performing countries. The study scored 36 nations, including 34 OECD members, Russia and Brazil. No overall ranking is reported.
The findings will surprise some, given our 7.2% national unemployment rate, 14.5% youth unemployment rate and economic growth projections that remain soft in the short term.
Here are seven highlights from the OECD report:
- Income: The average household earns US$28,194 each year after taxes. That’s more than US$5,000 above the OECD average. There is disparity at both ends of the earnings spectrum though, not surprisingly. The top 20% takes home US$55,718, while the bottom 20% earns US$10,526. We ranked seventh on household wealth and ninth on income.
Read more: Keep more of your money at tax time
- Community: Canadians spend two minutes a day volunteering; that’s about half the OECD average. On the other hand, 64% said they’d helped a stranger in the last month. (The OECD average is 48%.) And 94% know someone they could count on if needed. We ranked seventh on support network.
Read more: Volunteering in retirement
- Housing: Nine in 10 Canadians are satisfied with their housing. The average home in this country provides 2.6 rooms per occupant, more than any other country. And 99.8% of Canadians live in a home with a private washroom that has an indoor, flushing toilet. (The OECD average is 97.8%.) We ranked 24th on the ratio of housing costs to income, eighth on basic facilities and first on number of rooms per person.
Read more: How much does it cost to own a home?
- Environment: We’re better than average on both air pollution and water quality measures. We ranked 14th on pollution and 12th on water quality.
Read more: Are you living green at work?
- Health: Our life expectancy at birth is 81, a full year above the OECD average. And 88% of Canadians say they are in good health. Health spending in this country makes up 11.4% of gross domestic product. (The OECD average is 9.5% of gross domestic product.) We ranked third in health and 17th in life expectancy.
Read more: The Canadian health-care system at your fingertips
- Safety: Just 1.3% of Canadians said they were assaulted over the one-year period leading up to the survey. That’s well below the OECD average of 4%. Our homicide rate is less impressive. It’s 1.6%, only marginally below the average rate of 2.2%. We ranked first on assault rate and 23rd on homicide rate.
Read more: Seven smart safety tips for women
- Work-life balance: Canadians work an average 1,702 hours per year. That’s 74 hours below the OECD average. When asked if they work more than 50 hours a week, 4% said yes. (The OECD average is 9%.) We ranked ninth on working long hours.
Read more: Five secrets to finding a better work-life balance
The full index is made up of 11 categories. Canada ranked 27th on job security, fourth on student skills, fourth on government transparency and eighth on life satisfaction.
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