Life satisfaction

Life satisfaction represents people’s subjective evaluation of their satisfaction with life as a whole. Life satisfaction is associated with good family relationships, health, living conditions and wealth as well as confidence in governance in the broader society.

People in OECD countries are more satisfied with their life than those in the Asia/Pacific region (Figure 6.1). On a scale of 1 to 10, life satisfaction scores are about 1 point higher on average across the OECD than across the Asia/Pacific region. Australians and New Zealanders report the highest life satisfaction of the countries observed, averaging a score of seven out of ten; while residents in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka report the lowest life-satisfaction scores in 2017/19.

On average across the Asia/Pacific region and the OECD, life satisfaction has not changed markedly since the last decade (Figure 6.1). Trends also differ across countries; for example, on average life satisfaction was low in Georgia and India in 2007/09, but while it improved in Georgia, it declined further in India in 2017/19. Life satisfaction increased in about two-thirds of the countries since 2007/09, and the increase appeared most pronounced in Georgia, Mongolia, and the Philippines.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed life around the world. On average, more than seven in ten survey-respondents declare that their life has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Asia Pacific region, compared to more than eight in ten survey respondents across the OECD area. In 2020, over 9 out of 10 survey-respondents were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (either “a lot” or “to some extent”) in Korea, Mongolia and the Philippines. Whereas less than one in two respondents were affected Lao PDR, Nepal and Tajikistan (Figure 6.2).

People in wealthy countries tend to be more satisfied with life than those in less wealthy countries (Figure 6.3). People in Uzbekistan appear to have a higher life satisfaction than what might have been expected based on their average income, but results for Australia, New Zealand on the one hand, and Bangladesh and Cambodia on the other, illustrate the relationship between average life satisfaction and prosperity.

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