Comparing welfare and wellbeing data between countries helps inform policy, planning and decision making. It is also of interest to researchers and the general public to compare Australian experiences on a global scale.

Participating in international efforts to collect and report welfare data also facilitates cooperation between countries, expanding Australia’s international profile. For example, AIHW works with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and its member nations on projects using social data for more effective policy and service delivery.

The interactive visualisation on this page allows data to be compared across the 36 OECD member countries for a range of welfare indicators, highlighting Australia’s international performance. OECD countries provide a useful comparison for Australia because most are developed countries with high income economies. The indicators presented are adapted from Australia’s welfare indicators.

How does Australia’s welfare compare with other OECD countries?

Click through the categories at the top of the visualisation to change the set of indicators.

In 2018 (or based on latest year of data):

Material living conditions

  • Australia had a relatively high household disposable income of US$33,417 at current purchasing power parities per capita, ranking sixth out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available and above the OECD average of US$30,563. The United States ranked first at US$44,049 and Mexico 35th at US$13,891 (OECD 2019a).
  • Australia’s Gini coefficient of 0.33 ranked 15th out of 36 OECD countries (where a ranking of first represents most equality and 36th represents least equality). Gini coefficients are a measure of income equality that give a number between 0 and 1, where a higher value represents less income equality. Mexico had the least equal income distribution (Gini coefficient of 0.46) and Slovak Republic the most equal (Gini coefficient of 0.24) (OECD 2019g).

Work, skills and learning

  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of Australians aged 15–64 were employed. Australia’s employment-to-population ratio ranked 14th highest out of 36 OECD countries and was above the OECD average of 69%. Iceland had the highest ratio (85%) and Turkey the lowest (52%) (OECD 2019i).
  • More than 1 in 8 (13.2%) Australians worked very long hours (more than 50 per week), which is higher than the OECD average of 12.6%. Australia had one of the highest proportions of people working long hours, ranking eighth out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available. The Netherlands had the lowest proportion of people working long hours (0.5%) and Turkey the highest (34%) (OECD 2019a).
  • Almost half (45%) of Australians aged 25–64 had a tertiary education. Australia ranked eighth highest out of 36 OECD countries for which data were available and was above the OECD average of 37%. Canada had the highest rate (57%) and Mexico the lowest (17%) (OECD 2019b).

Health and vitality

  • Australians’ health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) at birth was 73.0 years—that is, the number of years a person can expect to live in ‘full health’. This was one of the highest of all OECD countries, ranking seventh out of 36, and above the OECD average of 71.1 years. Among OECD countries, HALE ranged from 74.8 years (Japan) to 66.0 years (Turkey) (WHO 2019).
  • Australians reported very high life satisfaction, with a score of 7.3 (on a scale from 0 to 10). This placed Australia 10th out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available, and above the OECD average of 6.5. Life satisfaction among OECD countries ranged from 7.5 (Norway) to 5.2 (Portugal) (OECD 2019a).

Personal safety and environment

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Australians felt safe walking alone at night. Australia ranked 27th lowest out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available, and below the OECD average of 69%. Among OECD countries, this ranged from 88% (Norway) to 46% (Mexico) (OECD 2019a).
  • Out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available, Australia had the fourth lowest level of air pollution, with 5.2 micrograms of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) per cubic metre. This was lower than the OECD average of 14 micrograms. Iceland (3.0 micrograms) had the lowest level of air pollution, and South Korea (28 micrograms) had the highest level of air pollution (OECD 2019a).
  • Australia released 22.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases per capita, higher than the OECD average of 12 tonnes per capita. Among 36 OECD countries, Australia emitted the most greenhouse gases per capita. The United States emitted the second most (20.2 tonnes per capita) and Sweden the least (5.4 tonnes) (OECD 2019d). However, Australia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions have reduced in recent years. In the year to September 2018, they were the lowest levels since 1990 (Department of the Environment and Energy 2018).

Social engagement

  • The quality of support networks in Australia ranked ninth highest out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available, with 94% Australians reporting they knew somebody they could rely on in times of need. This was higher than the OECD average of 89%. Among OECD countries, this ranged from 98% (Iceland) to 76% (South Korea) (OECD 2019a).
  • More than 86% of Australian households had Internet access at home. Australia ranked 21st out of 36 OECD countries for this measure. Among OECD countries, household Internet access ranged from 99.5% (South Korea) to 51% (Mexico) (OECD 2019e).

Employment outcomes and NEET

  • Australia’s long-term unemployment ratio (proportion of unemployed people aged 15 and over unemployed for 12 months or more) of 24% ranked 12th lowest out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available. This was below the OECD average of 31%. Among OECD countries, South Korea had the lowest long-term unemployment ratio (1.3%) and Greece the highest (73%) (OECD 2019f).
  • Australia’s youth unemployment rate (ages 15–24) of 11.8% ranked 18th out of 36 OECD countries, and was close to the OECD average of 11.9%. Japan had the lowest youth unemployment rate (3.7%) and Greece the highest (44%) (OECD 2019k).
  • Nearly 1 in 9 (11%) young Australians (aged 15–29) were not in education, employment or training (NEET). This was lower than the OECD average (13%). For this measure, Australia ranked 12th lowest out of 35 OECD countries for which data were available. NEET values ranged from 4.9% (Iceland) to 27% (Turkey) (OECD 2019j).

Demographic and economic factors

  • Australia’s population dependency ratio (ratio of population aged 0–14 and 65 and over per 100 population aged 15–64) was 22nd highest out of 36 OECD countries at 51%. This ratio ranged from 64% (Israel) to 37% (South Korea) (UN 2019).
  • Compared with other OECD countries, a high proportion of Australians (28%), were born overseas. Australia ranked third highest out of 31 countries for which data were available; rates ranged from 44% (Luxemburg) to 0.8% (Mexico) (OECD 2019c).
  • Australia’s per capita gross domestic product was US$54,108 (OECD estimated value), which ranked 11th highest out of 36 OECD countries. It was higher than the OECD average of US$46,025. Luxembourg had the highest per capita gross domestic product (US$111,710) and Mexico the lowest (US$20,227, OECD estimated value) (OECD 2019h).

     

Data presented on this page reflect those in the OECD.Stat database and other published sources for international comparisons. OECD data for Australia may differ from data presented elsewhere due to differences in data sources, definitions, indicator specifications and calculation methods.

Where do I go for more information?

For more information on international comparisons of welfare data, see:

References

Department of the Environment and Energy 2018. Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: September 2018. Canberra: Department of the Environment and Energy.

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2019a. Better Life Index—edition 2017 in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 30 January 2019.

OECD 2019b. Educational attainment and labour-force status in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 18 March 2019.

OECD 2019c. Foreign-born population (indicator) in OECD Data. Paris: OECD. Viewed 4 February 2019.

OECD 2019d. Greenhouse gas emissions in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 15 April 2019.

OECD 2019e. ICT access and usage by households and individuals in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 31 January 2019.

OECD 2019f. Incidence of unemployment by duration in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 9 May 2019.

OECD 2019g. Income distribution and poverty in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 30 January 2019.

OECD 2019h. National accounts at a glance in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 4 February 2019.

OECD 2019i. Short-Term Labour Market Statistics in OECD.Stat. Paris: OECD. Viewed 28 February 2019.

OECD 2019j. Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) (indicator) in OECD Data. Paris: OECD. Viewed 4 February 2019.

OECD 2019k. Youth unemployment rate in OECD Data. Paris: OECD. Viewed 28 February 2019.

UN (United Nations) 2019. Total Dependency Ratio. New York City: UN. Viewed 4 February 2019.

WHO (World Health Organisation) 2019. Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in GHO data repository. Geneva: WHO. Viewed 31 January 2019.

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Figure 1: Australia’s ranking among OECD countries for selected indicators

Dashboard that demonstrates Australia’s ranking among OECD member nations, and compared to the OECD average, in selected indicators. Australia’s ranking, the OECD average, and the range of values for each indicator are provided in text.