Israel Ranks in Bottom Tier of OECD's List of Happy Countries

Israel comes in at 24 out of 36 countries, and Australia keeps title of happiest developed nation for a third year in a row, followed by Sweden and Canada. The U.S. came in at number six, and Turkey scored lowest overall.

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Israel is the 24th happiest country out of a total of 36 countries ranked in OECD's Better Life Index released Tuesday. The index compares the countries in terms of 11 criteria: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

Australia is still the happiest developed nation, for a third year in a row, followed by Sweden and Canada filling the second and third spots. The U.S. came in at number six, and Turkey scored lowest overall.

Israel came in close to average or higher in several areas. Life expectancy at birth is 82 years in Israel, two years higher than the average elsewhere. For women, life expectancy is 84. For men, it is 80.

In terms of education Israel is above the OECD average of 74 percent, with 82 percent of adults aged 25-64 having earned the equivalent of a high-school degree. However the average score in reading, math and science comprehension was 38 points below the total average of all 36 countries.

The OECD average for life satisfaction is 80 percent, while 70 percent of Israelis claim their average day is positive overall. Israel is also slightly below the average in terms of employment. Sixty-one percent of Israelis between 15 and 64 have a paid job, compared to the OECD employment average of 66 percent.

Australia's economy is 13 percent larger than it was in 2008, the start of the global financial crisis that skitted less robust nations.

Of the dozen or so banks with a triple-A rating, four are Australian. The local currency is so strong that, for the first time ever, there are more Australians leaving for a foreign holiday than foreign tourists arriving for a look at the wide, brown land. Somewhat surprisingly, Australia ranked 25th in time devoted to leisure.

When all topics are weighted equally, Australians were shown as having the "better life" for a third consecutive year. Money and jobs were shown as key factor in the wellbeing of a nation.

Average net household income in Australia is 28,884 US dollars, 25 percent higher than the OECD average of 23,047 dollars. Furthermore, 73 percent of people aged between 15 to 64 in Australia have a paid job, compared with an OECD average of 66 per cent. But Australia also performed well on immaterial criteria, such as health and civic engagement.

The Paris-based OECD, which tracks economic and social progress in 34, said the survey showed people in developed countries "care more about their life satisfaction, health and education than their material needs."

Israelis protesting against austerity measures in Tel Aviv, May 11, 2013.Credit: David Bachar



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