If their beautiful scenery and efficient healthcare system didn’t make them smug enough, Norway has just been rated the best country to live in the world – again.
The United Nations Human Development Report – a huge annual study that measures human development in almost 200 countries – was published this week. And for the 12th year in a row, the land of Vikings, gravlax and fjords came out on top.
The report uses three categories of human development – a long and healthy lifestyle, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living – to assess how countries are doing. Norway scored the highest in life expectancy, expected years of education, and standard of living. Basically, if the world is a classroom, Norway’s getting straight A*s.
Children born in Norway in 2014 can expect to live to 81.6 years old, just under a year longer than their UK counterparts. Their finances aren’t looking too shabby, either: Norway’s gross national income per capita is $64,922, putting the UK’s $39,267 to shame.
The UK scraped into the chart at 14th place, coming just below Lichtenstein and above Iceland. But we are smashing it in one area: education. The average UK child is actually enjoying 13.1 years of education, right now. That’s the most in the world (alongside Germany). Depressingly, in Burkina Faso, the average child only gets 1.4 years of education – which makes us feel pretty guilty about skiving science in Year 9.
Jens Wandel, the head of the UN Development Programme’s administrative department, told The Local that Norway’s success is partly down to its high levels of gender equality.
“These things typically go hand in hand with a high human development level,” he said.
Women hold 39.6 per cent of seats in the Norwegian parliament, and maternity and paternity leave are both set at 10 weeks. In contrast, female MPs in the UK make up just 23.5 per cent of parliament, while fathers get a mere two weeks' paid paternity leave.
The report also revealed that women receive just a third of the world’s salaries for doing 52 per cent of the work. But in some good news, two billion people have moved out of extreme poverty in the last 25 years.
For this improvement to continue, Wandel says, governments around the world need to focus more on properly valuing unpaid labour – especially work carried out by women.
Now that’s something we can get behind.
Words: Moya Crockett
Words: Moya Crockett, Photos: ThinkStock