Portugal performs well in only few measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Portugal ranks above the average in housing, work-life balance, personal security and environmental quality, but below average in income and wealth, health status, social connections, civic engagement, education and skills, subjective well-being, and jobs and earnings.
These rankings are based on available selected data and are published in the OECD Better life Index.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Portugal, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 20 519 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly six times as much as the bottom 20%.
In terms of employment, 65% of people aged 15 to 64 in Portugal have a paid job, lower than the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 62% of women. In Portugal, some 8% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 11% of men working very long hours compared with 6% of women.
Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Portugal, 47% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 43% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 50% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 497 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is slightly lower than the OECD average of 486. Although girls outperformed boys in many OECD countries, in Portugal boys scored 1 point higher than girls on average.
In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Portugal is 81 years, one year above the OECD average. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 78 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 10.1 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Portugal does well in terms of water quality, as 87% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, above the OECD average of 81%.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and level of civic participation in Portugal, where 87% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, broadly in line with the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 56% during recent elections; lower than the OECD average of 69%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 61% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 54%. This difference is lower than the OECD average difference of 13 percentage points.
In general, the Portuguese are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Portuguese people gave it a 5.2 grade on average, one of the lowest scores in the OECD, where the average life satisfaction is 6.5.