Israelis are less satisfied with their lives than the average of the OECD countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to a new Better Life Index report released this week.
The OECD Better Life Index (BLI), marking its third year, aims to measure well-being and progress by inviting citizens from 36 countries to rate their lives based on 11 topics: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety, work-life balance.
More than 3.6 million people in 184 countries have used the well-being barometer to measure and compare their quality of life, based on their priorities.
“People want to be heard. They want to understand how their country compares to others and to know that we are listening,” said OECD Secretary- General Angel Gurría. “This year’s Better Life Index has evolved to reveal what’s most important to users. This represents an important potential new source of information for policymakers.”
According to the BLI, Israelis view health as their top priority, followed by education, life satisfaction, income and worklife balance. Civic engagement, community and the environment rank as the least important issues, respectively in Israel.
In comparison to other OECD countries, Israel ranks above average in the dimensions of health status, subjective well-being and income and wealth, but below average in education and skills, housing, environmental quality, personal security, work-life balance and civic engagement.
According to the report, when asked to rate their “general satisfaction with life” on a scale from 0 to 10, Israelis gave it a 7.1 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.6.
However, only 65 percent of people reported having more positive experiences, such as feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment and enjoyment in an average day than negative ones, such as pain, worry, sadness and boredom. This figure is much lower than the OECD average of 76% and one of the lowest in the OECD.
With regards to health, ranked as the most important category by Israelis, life expectancy stands at almost 82 years, two years over the OECD average.
According to the report, higher life expectancy is generally associated with higher healthcare spending per person, though in Israel total health spending accounts for 7.7% of GDP in Israel, less than the average of 9.4% in OECD countries.
Furthermore, the report indicated that between 2000 and 2010, total health spending in Israel increased in real terms by 3.6% per year on average, a slower growth rate than the OECD average of 4%.
When asked how their general health was, 82% of people in Israel reported to be in good health – higher than the OECD average of 69%.
The report also indicated that in Israel the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita – the amount of money that a household earns each year after taxes and transfers – stood at $20,434, lower than the OECD average of $23,047.
Meanwhile, household financial wealth per capita – the total value of a household’s financial worth – was estimated at $55,932, much higher than the OECD average of $2,903.
In addition, the findings indicated that around 67% of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64) has a paid job – slightly higher than the OECD employment average of 65%.
According to the report, people in Israel work 1,910 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1,765 hours. In Israel, close to 19% of employees work very long hours, one of the highest in the OECD where the average is 9%. Overall, men spend more hours in paid work.
twenty-eight percent of men work very long hours, compared with 9% of women.
With regards to education, the second-top priority for Israelis according to the BLI, 83% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 75%.
Among younger people, aged between 25 and 34, 90% have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, also higher than the OECD average of 82%.
Despite these promising figures, in terms of the quality of education, in 2012, the OECD administered the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test that focused on examining students’ reading ability, skills in math and level in sciences.
The results found that the average student in Israel scored 474 in reading literacy, math and sciences, lower than the OECD average of 497.
On average, girls outperformed boys by 11 points, slightly more than the average OECD gap of 10 points.
Furthermore, the average difference in results, between the students with the highest socioeconomic background and the students with the lowest socioeconomic background stood at 115 points, much higher than the OECD average of 96 points.
The report also indicated that with regards to civic engagement, only 34% of people say they trust their national government, less than the OECD average of 39%.
Furthermore, voter turnout in Israel – another measure of civic involvement – in the most recent election stood at 68% of those registered, below the OECD average of 72%.