Icelanders enjoy a high quality of life, and poverty is practically nonexistent. Keeping in line with the reserved character of Icelanders, there is not much conspicuous consumption of wealth, despite the high standard of living. This contrasts to life in 18th century Iceland, which was marked by economic troubles and a drop in the population. Economic conditions improved and population numbers grew throughout the 19th and
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All Food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
early 20th centuries. Following World War II, Iceland experienced an economic boom with a marked rise in its standard of living.
Icelanders, regardless of their economic circumstances, have access to the excellent health services. The social security system provides for pension insurance, occupational injury insurance, health insurance, and maternity leave. The government finances health care through taxation, and hospitalization is free. All hospital inpatient services are free and other medical services cost little. Icelanders have one of the longest life expectancies in the world.
The Icelandic government provides a number of welfare services for its citizens, including unemployment insurance, allowances for families who have children, and pensions for the elderly and disabled. Nearly all schools and universities in Iceland are free for its citizens. All students are required by law to attend school until the age of 16. Most students attend a 4-year academic college when they turn 16 and then continue their studies at the University of Iceland. A number of technical and vocational schools exist as well. Access to higher education is quite good for the young men and women of Iceland.