Norway Heads Quality of Life Index; Canada Miffed
Tue July 8, 2003 08:07 AM ET
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Australia and the Netherlands ranked as the best countries in which to live in the 2003 U.N. Human Development report on Tuesday but Canadians were miffed.
The United States ranked seventh and Canada was eighth in the report that seeks to go beyond per capita income and include such factors as educational levels, health care and life expectancy in measuring a nation's well-being.
The report also gives a separate index for women's participation in political and economic fields, with surprising results. It says that women fare better in Botswana, Costa Rica and Namibia than they do in Greece, Italy and Japan.
But Canada, which had been in first place in the overall index of 175 countries for seven years until 2001, conducted its own poll, apparently timed to the U.N. report.
Canadian media reported that 89 percent of the country had an "absolute conviction that we have a better quality of life than the United States."
Canada's seven years of first place ratings had prompted Ontario province and others to use the U.N. index in its advertisements. Last year, Canada slipped to the third place.
Mark Malloch Brown, head of the U.N. Development Program that produces the index, said there was little difference among the top 10 rated nations. The change in Canada's status was due to new methods of calculating educational standards.
The overall index shows a decline in 21 nations in the 1990s while in 1980 only four countries among the 175 tracked by UNDP showed similar decade-long decline. South Africa, now in 111th place, fell 28 ranks from 1990 because more people died younger from AIDS-related illnesses.
Roughly half the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean recorded either a decline or stagnation in income during the 1990s. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia per capita income also fell, with steep drops in Russia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
The top ranked nations were: Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, United States, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Britain, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Germany, Spain and New Zealand.
Those with low development rankings, from 156th to 175th place, were: Senegal, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Burundi, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone.
Worse than the Americans?!
"The change in Canada's status was due to new methods of calculating educational standards."
I'm surprised that the reason we fell so much was due to education, not, say, per capita income or somesuch. We'll need to get on that, I guess.
Ah well, at least we're still better than those godforsaken Brits.