The Economist has published “The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index” complete with a ranking of 111 of the world’s countries in order from the best to the worst to live in according to factors relating to quality of life. Citing material wellbeing, health, political stability and security, family life, community life, climate and geography, job security, political freedom and gender equality as the deciding factors in quality of life throughout the world, The Economist has placed Ireland in first place and Zimbabwe in last, although of course not every nation was evaluated. Each of the above factors was weighted at a certain percentage of importance in the overall national picture, with political freedom making the most difference at more than 25 percent.
These results were gathered through a survey of over 3,000 people. The results are based directly on the attitudes of actual residents. The Economist does note, however, that the survey and ratings table will be controversial. Individual factors like geography and climate, and community life have variables that survey makers could not have had the foresight to include. Community life ratings went up for countries with high church attendance or trade union membership, totally overlooking the myriad of other possibilities for community spirit and fellowship.
While in most polls of this kind Canada scores rather highly, this time around it sits just below the United States and just above New Zealand and the Netherlands. Great Britain sits at a lowly 29 while Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg and Sweden have taken spots two through five. More than anything else, this survey has reflected what residents feel about their own circumstances It has not incorporated potentially important statistical evidence like access to health care or education, although the unemployment ratings and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amounts of each country were used. Is it really fair to rank a national climate as poor or good without balancing it out with fundamental aspects like environmental policies or social systems?
In any case, the Irish have little to complain about, and we’ve got the survey results to prove it.
Economist Intelligence Unit (2006). The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index. The World in 2005. The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf.