Australia has placed a close second to Norway in the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), with the Scandinavian country pipping us at the post by 0.1 of an index point.
Norway came in at 0.94 on a scale of 0 to 1, where 1 is the highest score, whilst Australia scored 0.93.
The HDI ranks countries based on their national achievements in health, education and income. The top 10 was rounded out by the US, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden, whilst the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Burundi came in at the bottom of the rankings.
“The Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index helps us assess better the levels of development for all segments of society, rather than for just the mythical ‘average’ person,” chief statistician Milorad Kovacevic said.
“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.”
When the Index is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, a number of wealthy nations drop out of the top 20: the US falls from 4 to 23, the Republic of Korea from 15 to 32, and Israel from 17 to 25.
Australia also rated well on life expectancy, the average being 82, coming second only to Japan where the average is 83. We’re also a very satisfied bunch, usually rating our satisfaction as a 7.5 out of 10 when asked. Only the citizens of Canada, Denmark and Norway are happier, and those in the US and the UK trail behind, giving scores of 7.2 and 7.0 respectively.
Sweden leads in gender equality, Australia at #18
According to the Gender Inequality Index, another of the HDI’s composite indices, Sweden leads the world in gender equality. This index is measure by reproductive health, years of schooling, parliamentary representation, and participation in the labour market.
The Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Germany, Singapore, Iceland and France follow Sweden in gender equality, whilst Australia ranks at number 18.
Yemen ranks as the least equitable country, followed by Chad, Niger, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Liberia, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.
In Yemen, just 7.6 percent of women have a secondary education, compared to 24.4 percent for men; women hold just 0.7 percent of seats in the legislature; and only 20 percent of working-age women are in the paid work force, compared to 74 percent of men.