The Best Country in the World is?

Remember that much talked about Newsweek special which spoke so favourably about our Taoiseach and ranked him as one of the top 10 world leaders? Well, that was part of a much wider study which attempted to find the answer to the following thought:

"If you were born today, which country would provide you the very best opportunity to live a healthy, safe, reasonably prosperous and upwardly mobile life?"

All such surveys can lead to results that many will question or even dismiss, but for all of that, everyone loves to engage, speculate, agree, and disagree. Newsweek put together a very formidable group of advisors to help them out.

They choose 5 categories of national well-being – education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness and political environment – and compiled metrics within these categories across 100 nations. A weighted formula yielded an overall list of the world’s top 100 countries. Newsweek point out that they used the most recent data available and that the list represents a snapshot of how it was in 2008/09, and as we know, stuff happens and things change.

The top 10 in overall ranking were – Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Luxembourg, Norway, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan and Denmark.

It’s worth going to the next 10 too – United States, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Singapore. So there we are, or were, at number 17.

That’s a pretty respectable placing when you look at the company we are in and the many nations we are ahead of such as Italy, Spain, Israel, Russia, China, India, Brazil and so on.

The only category where Ireland breaks through to a top 10 placing is in Education, where we rank 9th.

The domination of North European countries in the top spots is interesting and as Newsweek put it, "they avoid war, they live in the dark, and they maintain a steady state of depressive and productive activity."

Wouldn’t you rather be number 17, really.

And here’s what they actually said about our Taoiseach, "With Ireland’s economy staggered by the banking crisis, the prime minister is prescribing harsh medicine.  His drastic austerity packages have won greater admiration abroad than among the citizens – Cowen’s ratings have plunged. But if he engineers the turnaround many seem to expect, he’ll no doubt be rewarded in the long run."

Finally, some gems for your next pub quiz:

Best weather – Malta
Best music – Mali
Best place to dine – Spain
Most gay-friendly – Holland
Best place to be old – Japan
Best place to be surgically enhanced – Brazil
Best place to fly a kite – India
Best place to drink a pint – Ireland

(PS. the last one is mine – aren’t you glad you live here!)

If you would like to comment on anything you’ve read here, leave a comment below!

September 16th 2010

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