The Best Places To Be Born In 2013

Data from the Economist Intelligence Unit. (Max Fisher/Wash Post)

Data from the Economist Intelligence Unit. (Max Fisher/Wash Post)

The Economist has compiled their list of the best places to be born in 2013. They explain the methodology that answers the question, “Where is the best place to be born in 2013?”:

To answer this, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist, has this time turned deadly serious. It earnestly attempts to measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead.

Its quality-of-life index links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are—to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries. Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account. They are a mixed bunch: some are fixed factors, such as geography; others change only very slowly over time (demography, many social and cultural characteristics); and some factors depend on policies and the state of the world economy.

A forward-looking element comes into play, too. Although many of the drivers of the quality of life are slow-changing, for this ranking some variables, such as income per head, need to be forecast. We use the EIU’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood.

Here is the full list. For comparison sake, the article also feature’s 1988’s list. Spoiler: America has fallen from #1 to #16.

The Washington Post has some interesting takeaways from the report:

Money can’t buy you happiness, though it will get you 2/3 of the way.

The correlation between wealth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, and happiness is clear, though not nearly as clear as you might expect. The report concludes from the results that “GDP per head alone explains some two thirds of the inter-country variation in life satisfaction, and the estimated relationship is linear.” Only two-thirds!

Inequality plus poverty is much worse than just plain poverty.

Three telling cases here are Angola, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, all of which scored much lower than I’d have expected. Both Angola and Kazakhstan are enjoying rapid economic growth from energy and mineral exports, and Ukraine is a middle-income democracy. But all three have severe and worsening problems with economic inequality, which in turn are fueling corruption and poor governance.

You’re worse off being born in any of these three countries, according to the data, than you are just about anywhere else, including Sri Lanka, a poor hotbed of ethnic violence, oppressive Vietnam, or even Syria. Pakistan places higher than Angola or Ukraine but just below Kazakhstan.

 

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