05/25/2011 10:04 EDT | Updated 07/25/2011 05:12 EDT

OECD 'Better Life Index': Canada Ranks High

(CBC) -- Canadians make more, work less, are happier with their lives and better educated than most residents of the 34 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a new index suggests.

The OECD launched the "better life index" Tuesday, which allows comparisons between the member countries that go beyond the traditional economic measures, such as gross domestic product.

"Canada performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being," the agency said, citing statistics such as:

Nearly four out of five Canadians are satisfied with their lives, compared with three out of five for the OECD as a whole.

Average Canadian household income of $27,015 US in 2008, more than $4,700 above the OECD average.

Nearly 72 per cent of Canadians 15 to 64 have a paid job, above the OECD average of 65 per cent.

Canadians work 40 hours less per year than the OECD average.

About 87 per cent of Canadians have the equivalent of a high-school diploma, much higher than the OECD average of 73 per cent.

Life expectancy in Canada is 80.7 years, a year above the OECD average.

The level of atmospheric PM10, tiny particles that are small enough to damage the lungs, is 15 micrograms per cubic metre, lower than the OECD average of 22.

But in terms of voter turnout, "a measure of public trust in government and of citizens' participation in the political process," Canada ranks at 60 per cent, below the OECD average of 72 per cent.

Canada's rankings are based on assigning an equal weight to each of 11 topics. But using the OECD's interactive index, individuals can adjust the weight of the topics and create their own index. The 11 items are housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

The index "has extraordinary potential to help us deliver better policies for better lives," said OECD secretary general Angel Gurría.

It's part of an OECD plan to measure well-being and progress.

The organization includes many European countries, the U.S., Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.