What is the best country to live in?

Ben P.


Considering there are over 190 countries in the world, it
is not surprising people often wonder if their country is a good place to live, and where the best place to live is. This article shows some of the world’s “best” countries, and why they are called so.

To begin narrowing the list down, the first set of qualifications are some of the most important- GPI, CPI, and literacy rate (see index at the bottom of the article for definitions). We ranked the top ten in each category, and as it turns out a total of eight countries made at least two of the lists. Five made two – Denmark, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia, while three more appeared on every list – New Zealand, Canada, and Finland.


Rank GPI CPI Literacy Rate
1 Iceland Finland Russia
2 Denmark Sweden Canada
3 New Zealand Denmark Japan
4 Austria New Zealand Israel
5 Switzerland Norway United States
6 Japan Singapore South Korea
7 Finland Switzerland New Zealand
8 Canada Netherlands United Kingdom
9 Sweden Australia Finland
10 Belgium Canada Australia

Now that we have a preliminary list of eight, we can examine them in further detail. The following shows fourteen of the most important categories in deciding the quality of life in a country. The chart below shows each country, the category, and a number from one to eight. That number represents the country’s rank when compared to the other seven (1=1st, 8=8th). At the bottom, we’ve added up all of the countries scores, and remember the lowest scores are the best.

Category Canada Finland New


Denmark Japan Switzerland Australia Sweden
GPI (x2) 6 5 2 1 4 3 8 7
CPI (x2) 7 1 4 3 8 5 6 2
Literacy/ Education Rate (x2) 1 4 3 8 2 7 5 6
Crime Rate 7 8 4 3 1 2 6 5
Unemployment Rate 5 8 4 6 2 1 3 7


5 7 6 8 1 4 2 3
HDI 6 5 7 4 8 3 1 2
Happiness 5 6 1 8 3 2 7 4
Obesity 6 1 8 3 5 4 7 2
Equality 5 2 8 3 4 6 7 1
Quality of Life Index 5 3 7 4 8 1 6 2
Pollution Index 6 1 4 7 8 5 3 2
Suicide Rate 2 7 5 3 8 6 1 4
External Debt 5 2 1 3 8 6 7 4
Overall Scores 85 70 73 76 84 71 78 66
Overall Ranks 8 2 4 5 7 3 6 1

What is GPI?

GPI means Global Peace Index, the IEP (Institute for Economy and Peace) made the GPI to determine how peaceful each country is by using 22 indicators that measure the countries military expenditure, relations with other countries, percent of population that is in prison, and other types of indicators that help determine how peace a country is. The organizations that use the GPI include the World Bank, The United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and other government plus organizations.


What is CPI?

CPI is an acronym for corruption perception index which tells us which countries have the most corrupt governments. CPI is accepted as the best index for corruption worldwide.


Literacy/ Education Rate

Education can be difficult to measure, so to make it simple we took one of the simplest forms of education which is literacy. The inhabitants of a country are blind to the world without the ability to read, so we made this one an important score.


Crime Rate

Crime rate is really homicide rate, the most extreme common offence. To determine the competency of law enforcement and civil peace, we included crime rate on this list.


Unemployment Rate

Even if a country’s inhabitants are literate, that doesn’t mean there are good jobs available to make good use of it. Literacy rate determines how many people are actually working in their country.


Life Expectancy

Besides crime rate, there are many causes of death that are avoidable if treated properly. An example is disease which can be cured more often with a stable health care system and competent medical employees. Life expectancy gives a more rounded representation of domestic safety.



HDI or human development index combines three categories (life expectancy at birth, education index, and GNI per capita) to determine how a typical person’s life will play out in any country. This tells us how well any given person will live in their respective country to see if their systems really work to benefit the people.



The HPI or happy planet index shows us how happy an individual is on average in their country. Although this is a very important aspect for a country to have, it is hard to measure for averages and thus is somewhat unreliable.



While the threats of having an obese country are limited at first glance, it is the future of these countries that depend on active lives to reduce disease and increase productivity.



What is the point of having a great country if it is only great to a few? Historically, a lack of equality has been problematic, from racial inequality (the partition of India) to simply allowing for a small amount of a society to live well while most inhabitants are living in inhumane conditions (the communist revolution).


Quality of Life Index

QLI seems to be the most important category on our list, but there are some unreliable or at least not rounded ways of determining this. Thus we use it as one category, but it does only show a small portion of true quality of life.


Pollution Index

Like obesity, this category is listed to show the future of a country. Pollution is a growing issue, and countries that are ahead of the game are heavily favoured to have better futures.


Suicide Rate

Although this category is very specific, knowing suicide rates can put the amount of depression and other things that negatively affect a country in proportion.


External Debt

If any given country has a lot of external debt, it may become such a priority that the general public’s lives are less important, as well as potential problems with the countries involved with the debt ahead. Furthermore, if a country needs more money than they have so badly they need to borrow from others, it raises some questions as to what they needed the money for.

  1. Canada

Although Canada scored last on this list of 8, keep in mind it is still ranked 8th out of 196 countries, which is very impressive. Strangely, on this list of 14 categories, Canada scored 5th on six of them. Canada also has the second highest population on the list, which may be dragging it down.


Pros Cons
1st place: Highest Literacy Rate 7th place: CPI
2nd place: Lowest Suicide Rate 7th place: Crime Rate
5th place: Highest Life Expectancy (5 more) 6th place: GPI (3 more)
  1. Japan

Japan has a population of approximately 127.6 million people, which is much higher than any other country on the list. Considering the three lowest placing countries on the list are the largest in some way or another, perhaps a low population makes countries score better.


Pros Cons
1st place: Lowest crime rate 8th place: CPI
1st place: Highest life expectancy 8th place: Quality of life index
2nd place: Literacy rate (1 more) 8th place: HDI (3 more)
  1. Australia

One of Oceania’s subdivisions is called Australasia, and both of it’s two countries made this list. Representing half of all Australisian countries, Australia scores sixth on our list. Australia is known for being a great vacation destination for it’s beautiful beaches, incredible wildlife, and landmarks like the Sydney opera house. But what many people don’t realize is that Australia is also a great place to live, especially considering it’s great HDI.

Pros Cons
1st place: HDI 8th place: GPI
1st place: Lowest suicide rate 7th place: Equality
2nd place: Life expectancy 7th place: pollution (2 more)
  1. Denmark

Considering four of the five top countries on this list are located in Europe, Denmark is far from alone. Not only is Denmark joined by three more top countries, several of the list’s runner-ups include Norway, Czech Republic, Iceland, Austria, and Ireland.

Pros Cons
1st place: GPI 8th place: Literacy rate
3rd place: CPI 8th place: Life expectancy
3rd place: Lowest crime rate (4 more) 8th place: Happiness
  1. New Zealand

The second half of Australasia, New Zealand has a population of only 4.5 million. New Zealand’s population is so small, in fact, that New Zealand has more sheep than people. Tiny or not, New Zealand is still a great place to live, as shown with it’s first place rank for happiness.

Pros Cons
1st place: Happiness 8th place: Equality
1st place: Lowest external debt 8th place: Obesity
2nd place: GPI 7th place: Quality of life index (1 more)
  1. Switzerland

Scoring third overall on our list are the Swiss. Switzerland has the smallest unemployment rate of all of the countries on our list, which likely contributes to it’s first place ranked quality of life index score.

Pros Cons
1st place: Quality of life index 7th place: Literacy rate
1st place: Unemployment rate 6th place: Equality
2nd place: Happiness (1 more) 6th place: Suicide (1 more)
  1. Finland

In the original process of deciding which countries to rank extensively, we decided to pick three very important categories to make top 10 lists for, and then continue ranking the countries which showed up on at least two of the top 10 category lists. The only three which ranked in the top ten on all three were Canada (8), New Zealand (4) and Finland (2). Finland ranks second on this list, only being outdone by one of its Scandinavian neighbours.

Pros Cons
1st place: CPI 8th place: Crime rate
1st place: Obesity 8th place: Unemployment rate
1st place: Pollution index 7th place: Life expectancy (1 more)
  1. Sweden

Scandinavia technically includes only three countries, but many include Finland as Scandinavian because of geography, cultural similarities, and overlapping languages. Counting Finland, Scandinavia includes this list’s best country to live in (Sweden), the second best country to live in (Finland), the fifth best country to live in (Denmark), and the top runner-up, which we can assume would have scored ninth (Norway). Scandinavia for the win. Sweden itself has created revolutionary waste disposal methods (so much so they import garbage from Norway), and its world best score for equality, allow Sweden to take the title of top country on our list.


Pros Cons
1st place: Equality 7th place: GPI
2nd place: CPI 7th place: Unemployment rate
2nd place: HDI (3 more) 6th place: Literacy rate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s