Why Norwegians Have the Highest Standard of Life in the World

Lofoten Islands, Norway
Lofoten Islands, Norway | © Scott Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo

What makes a country a great place to live in? According to the United Nations, a couple of things, among which include life expectancy, education, gender equality and financial wealth. As the 2016 Human Development Report was just published (hey, this amount of data takes time to accumulate and process) ranking the best countries in the world to live in, we were very surprised to see Norway on the first place for the 13th consecutive year. And by very surprised, we mean not surprised at all.

The 2016 Human Development Report

Let’s start with the good news first: based on the latest report findings, it looks like our world is slowly becoming a better place to live. In the past 25 years, over one billion people have risen out of extreme poverty (although of course, too many of our fellow humans still go to bed hungry every day). For 2016, the UN looked at nearly 200 countries trying to identify the ones where people live long, safe, healthy and happy lives. Key factors included access to free education, median income, low crime rates, low gender gap, low risk for deceases and overall healthcare system.

Island of Kallo-Knippla, Sweden

Scandinavian countries once again rank high

It will come as no surprise that all Scandinavian countries ranked within the top 15 in UN’s Human Development Report. Sweden, in 14th place, has a great life expectancy: people in Sweden live to be 82.3 years old on average. Iceland got ninth place with an even longer life expectancy at 82.7 (must be all that Skyr). As for Denmark, it tied with Singapore for fifth place of the UN’s ranking. Findings showed that, on the median wages of full-time employees in Denmark, there is a very low gender gap (7.8% versus 17.9% in the USA) and of course, gender equality is a very good indicator of a happy and prosperous country. As for Norway? Well, it ranked first – again.

Old Town, Stockholm

But what makes Norway so special?

Norway has a great life expectancy (82 years on average), thanks to the active Norwegian lifestyle, the diet that’s full of Omega−3 fatty acids (all that salmon is definitely good for you) and of course, a robust healthcare system that’s funded by the public. There are great educational opportunities, a low unemployment rate (the lowest in Scandinavia with 4.1%) and a total transparency when it comes to taxation that keeps companies accountable and forces them to offer fair salaries. Combine all the above, stir in with a few fjords and the breathtaking beauty of nature, and it’s not hard to see why this was Norway’s 13th consecutive year at the top of the list. Here’s to another 13 years.

Oslo, Norway
Lofoten islands, Norway
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