Norway tops UN global development ranking

Updated: 2011-11-04 08:07

By Li Lianxing (China Daily)

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 Norway tops UN global development ranking

Children drink water from a public tap in Managua, Nicaragua, on Tuesday. Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, it ranked 129th in the UNDP's Human Development Index. Elmer Martinez / Agence France-Presse

BEIJING - Norway is the best country in the world to live in, according to an annual ranking of national achievements in health, education and income released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The UNDP released its annual report on human development - "Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All" - and its 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Australia, the Netherlands, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden make up the remaining countries in the top 10.

However, when adjusted according to internal inequalities in health, education and income in the Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), some of the wealthiest countries drop out of the HDI's top 20 - the US falls from 4th to 23rd, the Republic of Korea from 15th to 32nd and Israel from 17th to 25th.

"Affected by the financial crisis, the US has a constant high unemployment rate, and the gap between the rich and poor is growing," said Fan Ying, a researcher in global economics at China Foreign Affairs University.

Environmental sustainability, health, education, income, and gender disparities are all significant factors, according to the report.

"Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue, as this report so persuasively argues," UNDP chief Helen Clark said in the report's foreword.

"It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billions of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come."

The 2011 HDI covers 187 countries and regions, compared with 169 in 2010, involving many island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific. It is based on national averages in schooling, life expectancy and per capita income, and it also has complementary indexes - the IHDI, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII).

"The IHDI helps us assess better the levels of development for all segments of society, rather than for just the mythical 'average' person," Milorad Kovacevic, chief statistician for the Human Development Report, was quoted as saying in a UNDP news release.

"We consider health and education distribution to be just as important in this equation as income, and the data show great inequities in many countries."

The 10 countries with the lowest rankings in the 2011 HDI are all in sub-Saharan Africa, which still suffers from inadequate incomes, limited education opportunities, and life expectancy far below the global average.

The GII shows that Sweden is the best in the world in gender equality, as measured by this composite index of reproductive health, years of schooling, parliamentary representation, and participation in the labor market, according to the UNDP. In the index, China ranked 35th while the US was in 47th place.

According to the latest MPI, which is mainly focused at the family level and takes into account environmental problems, the most vulnerable suffer a double burden as they are more affected by environmental degradation and are less able to cope with its resulting threats, said Clark.

He Mengying contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/04/2011 page10)