Sunday, 4 February 2007

The Best Quality of Life

I always enjoy reading those articles and studies in which some organization tells us which country is the "best". The studies are always subjective, but it is interesting to see which criteria are used to determine the attractiveness of a certain place. Today, I came across a study by an on-line magazine called "International living".

Their list of Best Quality of Life for 2007 is as follows:
1. France
2. Australia
3. Netherlands
4. New Zealand
5. United States
6. Switzerland
7. Denmark
8. Italy
10. Argentina

To produce this annual Index they considered, for each of 193 countries, nine categories: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.

Let's see if I agree with these categories:
Cost of living: yes, obviously this is important. If a country is fantastic but you can't afford to buy stuff and get necessary services, it become less attractive.
Culture and leisure: very important, but how to measure? I am sure that if you speak fluent Finnish there is lots of good culture in Helsinki. For someone moving in from another country, choices may be much more limited. One reason I like Singapore over other Asian countries is the availability of "culture" in English.
Economy, Environment are obvious. There must be an opportunity to make some money, and clean air and water is a basic human need.
Freedom: I didn't realize how important freedom is until I moved to a non-free country. The ability to speak your mind, protest, strike, start a political party etc. makes you feel better. Even if you don't see a need to exercise these rights very often. The fact that you are free to do so definitely i
mproves the quality of life.
Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate
are obvious again. But especially climate is very subjective. And how to measure for countries like France and the USA which have huge regional differences in climate.

I was kind of surprised to find the Netherlands so high on the list. Perhaps the constant complaining about everything that is a national trait of too many Dutch people has influenced my opinion about living here. As well as the impenetrable bureaucracy that has become a nightmare in too many government organizations and companies.

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