Canada among top three best places to live in new quality of life ranking

Dignitaries, musicians and artists celebrate Canada's 145th birthday on Parliament Hill

Congratulations fellow Canadians! We rank No. 3 in the Organization for Economic Co-operation's Better Life Index.

Canada was beaten by Australia and Sweden in the survey that measures quality of life among the major industrialized nations, The Canadian Press reports.

So we didn't win. But, hey, we're on the podium.

CP noted that while the Paris-based organization (OECD) didn't compile rankings, when all of the indicators were added up and given equal weighting, Canada finished third among the 36 countries surveyed.

The OECD says its Better Life Index aims to take the measurement of well being beyond "the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics." Its web site allows users to outline what for them constitutes the recipe for a better life, which they can then compare with results from other countries.

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Australia topped the report as the happiest nation based on yardsticks such as income, employment, housing and health, the group said.

“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the organization said, according to Bloomberg News.

The report said Canada "performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being." Some 72 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 have paid jobs, compared with 73 per cent for Australia and the OECD average of 66 per cent. Net disposable income of US$28,194 is about US$5,000 higher than average but "there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest," the report said.

Canada does well in terms of health, education, and environmental conditions such as air and water quality. There is also a strong sense of community, "but only moderate levels of civic participation," the report said.

"Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens' participation in the political process, was 61 per cent during recent elections; this figure is lower than the OECD average of 73 per cent."

On the upside, the report said voter turnout varied little across income levels, well above the average gap in OECD measurements, "suggesting there is broad inclusion in Canada’s democratic institutions."

"In general; Canadians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 82 per cent of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day [feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc] than negative ones [pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc]. This figure is higher than the OECD average of 80 per cent."

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We invariably want to know how we did compared with our neighbours to the south. Americans' net disposable income was US$10,000 higher than Canadians' but fewer people (67 per cent) aged 15 to 64 had a paid job, suggesting a wide income gap.

The U.S. falls short in health measurements but beats Canada in its sense of community and voter turnout, with 70 per cent. However, there's a wider gap between voting rates of the top social and economic tier and the bottom 20 per cent of the population.

In overall life satisfaction, Americans are practically identical to their Canadian cousins, with 83 per cent saying they have more positive experiences each day than negative ones.