Korea performs moderately well in overall measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks higher than average in several topics in the Better Life Index. When asked, 36% of people in Korea said they were satisfied with their life, much lower than the OECD average of 59%.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Korea is 80 years, slightly above the OECD average. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 31 micrograms per cubic meter, and is much higher than levels found in most OECD countries.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and civic participation in Korea. 80% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 91%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 63% during recent elections; this figure is lower than the OECD average of 72%. In regards to crime, only 2% of people reported falling victim to assault over the previous 12 months.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Korea, the average household earned 16 254 USD in 2008, less than the OECD average .

In terms of employment, nearly 63% of people aged 15 to 64 in Korea have a paid job. People in Korea work 2256 hours a year, much higher than the OECD average of 1739 hours and the highest rate in the OECD. 60% of mothers are employed after their children begin school, suggesting that women are able to successfully balance family and career.

Having a good education is an important requisite to finding a job. In Korea, 79% of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school diploma, higher than the OECD average. Korea is an exceptionally well-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 539 out of 600 in reading ability according to the latest PISA student-assessment programme, the strongest performance in the OECD.

For a full report, please visit: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/