By Karla Cripps
When it comes to health and prosperity, there’s no topping Norway.
For the 12th year in a row, the land of lefse and lutefisk has earned the number one spot on the United Nations’ 2015 Human Development Index (HDI), released as part of its annual Human Development Report.
The HDI measures countries in three basic areas — life expectancy, education and income/standard of living.
Norway earned high marks in all areas to get an overall score of 0.944. Its life expectancy at birth is 81.6 years, while its gross national income (GNI) per capita is $64,992.
Rounding out the top five are: Australia (0.935), Switzerland (0.930), Denmark (0.923) and the Netherlands (0.922).
Libya, Syria: Steepest drops
The HDI covers 188 countries and territories. This year’s index has one new addition — South Sudan.
According to the UN, the HDI — launched in 1990 — is intended to emphasize that expanding human choices should be the ultimate criteria for assessing development results.
“Economic growth is a mean to that process, but is not an end by itself,” said the report.
“The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of [Gross National Income] per capita can end up with different human development outcomes.”
The countries with the steepest drops on the 2015 HDI are Libya, which slipped 27 places and Syria, which fell 15 places.
The bottom five countries are Niger (0.348), Central African Republic (0.350), Eritrea (0.391), Chad (0.392) and Burundi (0.400).
“This new global Human Development Report is an urgent call to tackle one of the world’s great development challenges — providing enough decent work and livelihoods for all,” said Helen Clark, United Nations Development Program Administrator, during the launch of this year’s report.
“The world of work is changing more rapidly than ever before. The question is: what are the best policy responses to ensure that human development benefits from that change?”
Human Development Index top 20
8. United States
9. New Zealand
12. Hong Kong, China (SAR)
14. United Kingdom
17. South Korea