Quit your whining. You actually live in the (second) best place in the world
It’s been a funny old week. Some people have declared the country unfit for purpose following the changes to benefits and the health service. Others have reminisced over Britain’s greatness since 1979 for a different reason. Either way, we now have proof that living in the UK is officially A Good Thing as a new index from the US puts the UK second only to Sweden in a table of the best places to live in the world.
Called the Social Progress Index, the new list ranks 50 leading countries by combining a range of figures, including things like health and health care, crime, and broadband access. According to the authors, Britain’s unique position, bridging Europe and America, has made it one of the best places to live in the world overall, beating Germany and France, the US, Canada and Australia, all of whom feature in the top ten.
Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia languish at the bottom of the table.
The index has been compiled by Harvard Professor Michael Porter and a team of economists at MIT, and is designed as an alternative to traditional economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The new index has three main areas of ranking- Basic Human Needs (blue), Foundations of Wellbeing (orange) and Opportunity (green), and is designed to be a more rounded and comprehensive social index.
While European countries with generous welfare systems score highly in more basic and wellbeing measures, they fare less well in the Opportunity category which combines personal freedoms with measures such as access to higher education. The US comes top of Opportunity, but scores lower than Costa Rica, Argentina and Poland on the Wellbeing measure. Despite spending the most on healthcare per capita of any country in the world the United States ranks just 11th overall in terms of Health and Wellness, while conversely the UK is ranked top for this measure although per capita spend would put us only 11th.
The UK also comes fourth on a measure of “access to information and communications” behind Switzerland, Germany and Sweden but ahead of the Korea, France and the US.
Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, the think-tank behind new index, suggested the reason we did so well is because of our “mid-Atlantic” approach.
“If you think of Britain’s self image as straddling the best of Europe and the best of America that is what seems to be coming across in the data,” he told The Telegraph. However, he went on to say that Britain was not perfect, but the index highlighted areas that may need attention; things like availability of affordable housing, rising health risks like obesity and heart disease, and access to Higher Education.