Are we expecting you next year? Yes, I can read your mind! If you are looking for quality of life in Spain, it means you are interested in studying, working, or moving to the country. And, excite us!!!
I could also be wrong, and you are just a fan of countries’ indexes, and looking for the quality of life of countries in the OECD web is your passion. Either way, knowing if Spain is a contender in your list of countries to live in does not harm.
So, you should know that from these eleven criteria, four in which Spain outperforms and three where it underperforms compared to the average index set by the OECD.
You will find out in a bit! Keep reading and make up your list of pros and cons to see if Spain qualifies as your next destination.
The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development analyzes different aspects of a country before creating a full report on its quality of life. So, before diving into each of the eleven criteria, you should know that each category is made up of subcategories that, if analyzed together, cast a detailed result.
I will link you the video that explains why the OECD Better Life Index is great for analyzing Spain’s quality fo life.
“Housing” is not only about the power to acquire a house and have a roof above you; it is also about having the possibility to create a family under that roof, feeling safe, and having privacy and personal space.
So, to estimate if Spain has desired housing conditions, the OECD analyzes the money invested in each person’s house, the rooms per person, and the access to private toilets.
In all of the cases above, Spain outperforms the average index set by the organization. For the disposable income available for people to spend in their house, Spain got a 22% compared to the 20% tested by the OECD. Then, the rooms available per person are set to be 1.7, but in Spain, the average is 1.9. Finally, in the subcategory of toilets per person, we got a 99.7, two points higher than the 97 set by the OECD.
Money can’t buy happiness, true. But money buys a LOT of things that allow people to have a better quality of life; after all, we are here for that.
The subcategories within the “Income” are household net adjusted, social inequality, and household net wealth. To be honest, Spain doesn’t come out utterly great in this category, and it’s important to acknowledge that having a neutral to adverse outcome in “Income” affects education, healthcare, and housing.
So, the household net adjusted is, and I quote, “the amount of money that a household earns each year after taxes and transfers.” Here, Spain’s results are an income per capita of USD 27 155 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 30 490.
Then, in social inequality, Spain comes out as number 26 of 35 countries, behind twenty European countries.
The third subcategory is household net wealth, which means “the total value of a household’s financial and non-financial worth.” In this subcategory, Spain has a better result. The average household net wealth is estimated at USD 366 534, higher than the OECD average of USD 323 960.
All these numbers mean that Spain has a visible social inequality, with families earning less per year compared to other countries, but they do care to have non-financial assets such as properties and cars.
Okay, I think that after two indicators, you have understood how this works. The subcategories inside “Jobs” are employment rate, long-term unemployment rate, personal earnings, and job security.
Before you are scared by the numbers, you should know that the difference between Spain’s result and the OECD average isn’t that big. Nevertheless, we recognize there are still. Lot of aspects that the country needs to improve in terms of jobs. In the note below, I leave you with some good news!
Regarding the employment rate, around 62% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job compared to the 66% established by the OECD.
The long-term unemployment rate is people between 15 and 64 years old who don’t have a job but have been looking for one for over a year. Being unemployed for more than a year affects “feelings of well-being and self-worth and results in a loss of skills, further reducing employability.” Spain’s index is 5% compared to the average 1.3% of the OECD and ranks 38 out of 41 countries around the world.
When it comes to personal earnings, regular Spaniards earn almost 4 thousand fewer dollars than the average OECD-established yearly wage.
Finally, job security means how likely you are to lose your job, how long you are likely to remain unemployed, and how much financial assistance you can expect from the government. Spain’s result is 10% higher than what is established by the OECD, which means that people do worry about losing their jobs and don’t see a positive future.
Some good news! Madrid has been recognized as one of the top cities to launch a start-up. The European Committee of Regions awarded Madrid the “European Entrepreneurial Region” as it became a top destination for entrepreneurs and professionals.
I am proud that Spain has great results in this indicator. Community is about the strength of the social connections and network that a persona has. It is about having access to constant emotional support and open doors. With the latter, I mean that when someone has a strong social network, they have more opportunities to find jobs, get services, and have material opportunities.
In Spain, 93% of people believe they have someone to rely on. This is high compared to the 91% established by the OECD.
Knowing this can also be assured that we are super friendly people. We enjoy spending time with our friends and families, and that is the basis of our community.
What does the OECD say about Spanish education? This indicator is divided into three subcategories: attainment of education, student skills, and years of education.
The latter subcategory is the only one that aligns with the years established by the OECD. Spaniards study an average of 17.9 years in their life, while the organization sets 18 years as the desired quantity.
For the attainment of education and student skills, Spain has low scores with one marvelous exception. In the first subcategory, 63% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, lower than the average of 79%. Then, when it comes to skills, the average student in Spain scored below the OECD average in reading literacy, maths, and sciences. BUT! Castile-Leon is the exception! The system implemented by this autonomous region focused on the well-being of the student, which affected their end-results performance in other subjects.
The Environment indicator has only two categories: PM2.5 per cubic meter and water quality.
PM2.5 is a tiny particulate matter that is small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lung. This has long-term effects on our health. Spain’s PM2.5 levels are 10 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter, which is aligned with the health parameters of the World Health Organization. Regarding water, only 86% like the quality of Spain’s water, while the average should be 94%.
Madrid is the 6th greenest city in Europe (European Environmental Agency).
7. Civic Engagement
Civic Engagement refers to the extent to which citizens participate and show interest in politics and public decisions.
To measure civic engagement, the OECD estimates voter turnout because, in the long- term, it proves how accountable the government is and shows the level of confidence citizens put in public institutions. The result on voter turnout in Spain was 72% of those registered, three points higher than the average set by the OECD.
The criteria of Health is fundamental for Spain’s quality of life. Public Health in Spain works pretty well, with very few downsides. Public hospitals give great attention and service to everyone, and the system prioritizes people with emergencies to go through faster. The downside of it all would be those who need appointments for general exams or not-critic circumstances; now that can take months.
Nevertheless, Spain still outperforms in Health compared to other countries. The subcategories analyzed for this criteria are life expectancy and self-reported Health.
For the first one, Spaniards live three more years than the average estimated by the OECD, ranking in third place behind Japan and Switzerland, both with a life expectancy of 85 years old, while Spain is 84 years old.
Then, for self-reported Health, 75% of Spaniards said they enjoy good Health in front of the 68% OECD average.
9. Life Satisfaction
Besides all the objective criteria, such as jobs, Health, and education, which can be measured and easily compared, life satisfaction comes to present the general feelings of the Spaniards.
Life satisfaction refers to the presence of positive experiences and feelings and the absence of negative experiences and feelings; this information helps compliment the perception of quality of life across countries. For this indicator, citizens should separate their current feelings from the general perception of their life; and on a scale from 0 to 10, the Spanish, on average, gave it a 6.5 grade, below the OECD average of 6.7.
Spain is the 18th happiest country in the European Union (Global Finance Magazine).
This should be a requisite everywhere. Every person in the world should feel safe walking in their own cities. I must say that most Spaniards are lucky enough to say that in most of our cities, it is super safe to walk alone at night.
What I just mentioned is one of the two subcategories for safety; the second would be the homicide rate of the country.
So, when asked about safety when walking at night alone, 80% of Spaniards said they felt safe, which is six points hights than the average. In addition to that, the homicide rate is low, with 0.7 compared to the 2.6 that the OECD considers average and the limit to say a country is safe.
Oviedo (Asturias) is the most safe and secure city in Spain. This city is a beauty and you will be charmed and pleased with the atmosphere you percieve when visiting.
11. Work-life balance
Just as the name of the subcategory indicates, this criteria aims to analyze if people carry a balanced life between work and personal life.
This is measured by analyzing the time employees spend at work versus the time people dedicate to leisure activities. In both, Spain maintains a healthy result. The OECD indicates that 3% of employees work very long hours in paid work, much less than the OECD average of 10%. Likewise, Spaniards spent more than fifteen hours in personal care and leisure, which is 0.7 more than the average set by the organization.
In Spain, about a quarter of grandparents take care of their grandchildren on a daily basis. So, don’t be surprised if you see very old couples with five month-old babies.
Spanish cities with the best quality of life
So, in a nutshell, Spain’s quality of life is pretty good. Actually, it is the fifth preferred country by expatriates after Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand, and Germany. An example of an ex-pat in love with the southern cities of the country is Chris Stewart, a former British singer that moved to Andalusia and wrote such good stories about his life in Spain that there is even a possibility of a show!
To know more about this book, check out the article below!
7 Books about Spain That Will Make a Cultural Expert Out of You
And, as you see, I have described the quality of life in Spain as a whole, and I know you got this far for some specifics. So, what are the best cities in Spain? The ones with the best quality of life?
Well, we have already created an article explaining which they are, but I will also list them here for you to see!
(Plus! I will leave yuo the video of best hospital in Spain located in Pamplona, Navarra).
- Oviedo for Safy and Security
- Málaga for Culture and Enviroment
- Pamplona for Best Health System
- Barcelon a for Infraestrcutre
- Madrid fro Education
To know more about this cities, head here!
The Best City in Spain according to your different wants and needs
That’s it for today! Now you know the eleven criteria international organization uses to determine if Spain. It’s a lot to process, but if you ever decide to change countries or cities, when are right here in Madrid!
Spain- OECD Better Life Index