So this is Canada, eh?

Want to know how the world views Canada? Here’s the country’s portrait as painted by the Paris-based social and economic policy think-tank OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), which released a new analysis of social trends that compare many of the world’s nations.

Canadians are hard-working, great readers, the most tolerant people in the developed world, and enjoy more “positive experiences.” (Positive experiences include feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, smiling, doing something interesting and experiencing enjoyment.)

Canadians also have a below-average participation rate in elections, don’t produce many babies and are more likely to report “negative experiences.” (Negative experiences include pain, worry, sadness, stress and depression.)

Here are the references to Canada in the OECD report entitled “Society at a Glance”:

  • “At 84 per cent on average, Canadians report the highest community tolerance of minority groups — ethnic minorities, migrants, and gays and lesbians — in the OECD, where the average is 61 per cent,” the report said. Residents of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the Nordic countries were among the most tolerant, while those in southern and eastern Europe, as well as Japan and Korea, were less tolerant.
  • Canada has a fertility rate of 1.68 children per woman, below the OECD average of 1.74 “and easily the lowest of the anglophone OECD countries.” New Zealand’s was 2.14, Ireland’s was at 2.07, the U.S. was right at the replacement level of 2.01. The United Kingdom had a 1.94 per cent rate.
  • Canada’s record-low 59.1 per cent voter turnout in the 2008 federal election was seventh-worst among the 34 countries, ahead of only the U.S., Mexico, Switzerland, Poland, the Slovak Republic and South Korea.
  • Canada had the sixth-highest proportion of foreign-born people in its population, at roughly one in five. Only Luxembourg, Israel, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand had a higher percentage of foreigners.
  • Canadian 15-year-olds rank third in reading skills, behind only Korea and Finland.
  • A compilation of the total amount of time spent on paid and unpaid work per day put Canada in fourth place, behind only Mexico, Japan and Portugal.
  • Canada’s poverty rate, at 11.4 per cent, is slightly above the 11.1 per cent average. But Canada, by experiencing an average annual decrease in the poverty rate of 0.2 per cent between the mid-1980s to the late-2000s, was one of only eight countries to experience a decline.
  • The study also showed Canada, despite having a higher number of foreign-born residents than most countries, has a relatively modest rate of immigrant growth. The proportion of foreign-born residents in Canada grew by 3.5 percentage points between 1995 and 2005, just above the average of 3.2 percentage points. Among countries with higher increases were Spain (11.1 percentage points), Ireland (9.8), Austria (4.2) and the United Kingdom (3.9).
  • There are currently 4.6 Canadians of working age (20-64) for every person at pension age, compared to the OECD average of 4.2:1. Canada’s ratio is expected to decline to 2.1:1 by 2050, which is identical to the projected OECD average but much higher than countries such as Germany (1.6:1), Italy and South Korea (1.5:1), and Japan (1.2:1).
  • OECD analysts couldn’t explain why respondents in a small group of countries — Canada, the United States and Chile — reported a high number of both positive and negative experiences.

The OECD’s “Society at a Glance” report, is done every two years, relies on comparative reports, such as the Gallup World Poll, which surveyed between 1,000 and 4,000 respondents in each of more than 140 countries last year.

The OECD report can be found here:,3746,en_2649_37419_2671576_1_1_1_37419,00.html

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