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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Where are the best and worst places to live?
Norway is the most highly developed country according to the UN's 12th annual Human Development Report with Sierra Leone being ranked as the least developed.
Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Australia and the United States where all ranked high in the chart with the bottom of the index being dominated by African countries.
The report also warned that rising inequality and corruption around the world are putting the recent spread of democracy in many countries at risk.
Which countries do you think have the best and worst quality of life? Can quality of life be measured?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I can't believe that Northern European countries ended up first in the list. In Holland, life is easy but extremely boring. Everything is so basic, beginning with food and housing. If you can, move to the south and you'll be happy.
I have seen many countries and live in a few but I will never trade this country even for all the tea in china.
The US is by far the best place in the world to live. The friendly people, good weather, stimulating atmosphere and world class entertainment makes this place awfully hard to leave.
One country that should not be on the top 10 list is Japan. Specifically, the urban areas. Crowded, noisy, extremely high cost of living, abundant pollution. They do have a low crime rate though. Rural Japan, I have to say, is far nicer and pleasant. Clean air, beautiful scenery, good food, and friendly people. Just get outside the cities.
Arthur Lowe, Australia
No stress in Oz? You should try working in Sydney "mate" - 12 hour days, most weekends - that's the norm for corporate Australia in 2002! Even the government admits we're working the longest hours of any OECD nation - not my idea of paradise.
It depends on your place in the social ladder. If you're a well-heeled politician or media magnate then life is pretty good for you regardless of location. At the other end of the scale, it's a different story. Australia ranks high in the chart, but they obviously didn't assess the problems faced by aboriginal communities. Infant mortality is on a par with third world countries, life expectancy is low, tuberculosis is rife and life expectancy compares badly with the white majority. Add to that the issue of deaths in custody, can it really be the "lucky country"?
I was glad to see New Zealand didn't make the list.
There won't be a rush of new immigrants to mess up paradise. With a life expectancy of 77.9 years and only 3.8 million inhabitants, New Zealand has a perfect space to person ratio. No queues, no waiting, no stress. I know where I would rather live. And where the GDP of $17,700 per capita is actually enough to live on comfortably!! Try and live in the US on $34,142 per annum!!
Holland is in the top 10? This is one of the most overcrowded parts of the "developed world"! Streets are narrow and congested, houses cramped and prices high (especially compared with our neighbours). Some people say we are a tolerant nation, in reality we have developed a strange sense of lack of care.
Christopher Briggs, ex-Pat, Norway
Having spent extensive time in Mali (featured in the bottom 15) I have to say that I prefer the uncomplicated life of Mali to the USA.
If only, I can convince my wife to move there.
Climate is a huge factor, plus stress free daily living, i.e. no traffic jams, queues, crime etc. I live in Canada but love to get away to places with real atmosphere and excitement, like the UK.
Quality of life is such an esoteric thing to measure. I have lived in New York City for 2 years and can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. I have spent time in Canada, Mexico, and the UK (along with many areas of the USA) and none of those places have compared to the cultural and social stimulus I get presently. I may pay more for living, but it is a worthwhile investment.
I used to live in the UK. The weather was so depressing. The people were often miserable and longing for a holiday in the sunshine. What does that tell you? Now I live in Florida, USA and most days are gorgeous and the people have a much better optimistic outlook on life, even if they have life challenges.
No one mentioned Malta. Surely it must be the worst place on the planet: hot, dirty, overcrowded, underdeveloped, and no job opportunities whatsoever.
Mark L, England
Italy has great scenery and weather and I think people have very strong family ties, which is good for the general wellbeing. Also people or more into sport and dance instead of getting drunk. In the UK people think more liberally than in most countries, but you really can't ignore the awful weather, the overcrowding and the dependency on alcohol and drugs for leisure pursuits. Zimbabwe is an amazing place. Unfortunately without the basics like food which have been taken away from its people, one can't put this one top any more.
I cannot help thinking that we are too concerned with the top of the table. We should be more concerned with helping the countries at the end of the table.
As a New Yorker, I find myself stressed and harried far more that my European and Australian friends. So their quality of life must be considered to be far better.
What kind of quality of life did the UN think they measured? In the dark depressing winter season Norway has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. There is so much more to quality of life than income per capita.
Reading is the worst place to live. It's horrible.
I agree with Neil Webster that Reading is awful but, I wonder, if he has ever been to Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Now that is a REAL dump!
Australia is the best country I've ever been for people, places, sport and beauty.
Best place: UK, worst place: UK.
After three years in the US, I believe the UK has a far better quality of life. The cost of living may be higher, but (house prices aside) that trend is reversing and coupled with more generous holiday time and working conditions, you'd be hard pressed to beat Blighty as a place to live. The only real problem is the weather!
24 Jul 02 | Americas
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