Health status and morbidity

The interactive visualisations on this page allow you to compare data across 36 OECD member countries for the following indicators of health status and ill-health (morbidity):

  • perceived health status by age, sex, level of education and income
  • infant health
  • incidence of communicable diseases
  • incidence of cancer
  • injuries in road traffic accidents
  • absence from work due to illness.

Key findings

In 2017 (or based on the latest year of data):

Perceived health status

  • among those aged 15 and over, Canadians were most likely to perceive their health as ‘good/very good’ (88%), followed by those living in New Zealand (88%), the United States (88%) and Australia (85%). Those living in Korea (18%) and Lithuania (17%) were most likely to rate their health as ‘bad/very bad’
  • breaking perceived health status down by age groups, those in the 15–24 year age group were most likely to rate their health as ‘good/very good’ in Greece (98%), while among those aged 65 and over, those in New Zealand were most likely to rate their health as ‘good/very good’ (87%)
  • across all OECD countries, people in the lowest income quintile (the lowest 20%) were less likely to perceive their health as ‘good/very good’ than those in the highest income quintile (the highest 20%). In Australia, this ranged from 85% to 94% between the lowest and highest income quintiles


  • Australia had the second highest rate of cancer (all malignant neoplasms (C00-C97)) among OECD countries (323 cases per 100,000 population), while Denmark had the highest rate (338 per 100,000 population). Among males only, Australia’s rate of cancer (all malignant neoplasms) was higher than in any other OECD country, while it was 7th highest for females. Relatively high cancer incidence rates for Australia may be due in part to Australia’s high-quality and virtually complete cancer incidence data. Across OECD countries, the quality and completeness of cancer registry data may vary, in turn affecting the cancer incidence rates provided to the OECD and presented here

Infant health

  • among OECD countries, Greece and Japan had the highest proportion of low birthweight babies, at 9.4% of total live births. The proportion of low birthweight babies in Australia was the same as the OECD average, at 6.5% of total live births

Communicable diseases

  • the rate of pertussis (whooping cough) in Australia was second highest among OECD countries, at 50 cases per 100,000 people. The highest rate was in Switzerland, at 145 cases per 100,000 people. The incidence of AIDS, hepatitis B and measles in Australia were all below the OECD average

Injuries in road traffic accidents

  • the rate of injuries in road traffic accidents was highest in New Zealand, at over 8,100 injuries per 1 million population. Australia was below the OECD average, at around 1,500 injuries per 1 million population

Absence from work due to illness

  • based on self-reported data, Australia was below the OECD average for the number of days absent from work, per person, per year, due to illness (7.3 days), while the highest rate was in Latvia, at 19 days absent from work per person, per year due to illness.