Australia: The second-best place to be born

Reported by Mike King, The Motley Fool.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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Australia ranks second amongst 80 countries on a list of the best places to be born, according to The Economist.

Beaten into first place by Switzerland, Australia scored 8.12, ahead of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Our cousins across The Ditch ranked 7th with a score of 7.95, while the United States ranks equal 16th with Germany.

The index attempts to measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead. In all, 11 indicators were taken into account, including quality of life, social and cultural characteristics, and forecast GDP in 2030 – which is around when children born this year reach adulthood. The Economist says that it found being rich helped with people’s happiness, but was not the only reason. Crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too.

Despite the economic crises facing the US and Europe, income levels are at or near historic highs, The Economist reports. Life expectancy continues to increase steadily and political freedom has spread across the globe – especially in North Africa and the Middle East.

Among the 80 countries covered in the index, Nigeria was the worst place to be born this year. Political instability, corruption, failing infrastructure and poor macroeconomic management over many years has hurt the country, despite its massive oil reserves. Since 2007 the country has been making improvements to its economy – although not enough to keep it off the bottom of this year’s list.

In 1988, The Economist published a similar list – although slightly tongue-in-cheek back then. The US came out on top thanks to cultural poverty and the “yawn index” (the degree to which, despite its many virtues, a country may be irredeemably boring). Countries also scored bonus points, such as for things like scenic attractions (Norway, New Zealand and Canada), the most desirable passport (Canada again), most diverse cuisine (Hong Kong) and the best chocolate (Switzerland and Belgium). Australia ranked 18 in that index, equal with New Zealand.

The Foolish bottom line

Australians can take many things for granted. We should feel very lucky for the situation we find ourselves in – although I think we should’ve got bonus points for our sporting achievements, the best Olympics ever (in 2000), and our giant fibreglass roadside attractions such as sheep, crabs, koalas and various fruits.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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