Best Countries for Quality of Life in 2011

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland
An organization called Nation Ranking recently released its 2011 Quality of Life Index. One hundred thirty-seven countries were ranked according to:

“a nation’s livability for its average inhabitant. It is a composite of six sub-indexes, each describing one of the elements which objectively influence the quality of life: health, education, wealth, democracy, peace and environment.”

You can find the entire report here. I’ve pulled out the Top 10 for you in the overall Quality of Life and several of the sub-categories.

Countries with the Best Quality of Life

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Switzerland
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Austria
  7. Finland
  8. New Zealand
  9. Germany
  10. Canada

Additional rankings that might interest you: Australia is #14, France is #15, the United Kingdom — current scene of riots — comes in at #19, the US at #31. Expat haven Costa Rica is #36, Panama #44, Malaysia #50, Thailand #71. Not surprisingly, the bottom 10 include Haiti, Afghanistan, and eight impoverished African countries.

Also interesting to me are the sub-rankings.

Health

Factored into the Health index were life expectancy at birth, infant mortality and access to health care. “Mortality amenable to health care (when available)” was also a factor.

  1. Singapore
  2. Iceland
  3. Japan
  4. Australia
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. Switzerland
  8. Spain
  9. Israel
  10. Sweden

The UK comes in at #18 here, and the US is #39 (behind Slovenia, Cuba, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Chile, Bosnia, Serbia and Kuwait).

Education

This one was full of surprises, for me at least. The study looked at the adult literacy rate, school life expectancy and PISA results (when available). The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is a set of standardized tests given to 15-year-old students throughout the world. Including those results for some countries but not for others might account for some of the surprising rankings.

  1. Finland
  2. S. Korea
  3. Canada
  4. New Zealand
  5. Cuba
  6. Estonia
  7. Netherlands
  8. Australia
  9. Switzerland
  10. Germany

One of the surprises was #11, N. Korea. I really don’t understand how any educational system that relies on basically fabricated versions of “history” can get good grades. . .

The UK was #17, the US #22.

Democracy and Peace

Results were based on Freedom House and Global Peace Index studies.

Not too many surprises here. The Scandinavian countries scored highest in the Democracy category, with the US, Canada and the UK at #15, #17 and #17 respectively (there were several ties).

Countries without standing armies scored highest for Peace — New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, Austria and Norway were the top five. Canada was #14, Australia #19, the UK #31, and the US came in at #81. Last were Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan — again, no surprises.

Environment

Again, not many surprises here. Iceland claimed the #1 spot, followed by

  1. Iceland
  2. Switzerland
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Sweden
  5. Norway
  6. France
  7. Austria
  8. Cuba
  9. Colombia
  10. Finland

The UK was #12, New Zealand #13, Panama #21, Mexico #37, Canada #40, and the US straggled in at #52.

photo by o pallson on flickr

Were you surprised by any of these results? If so, which ones?

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