29 December 2011

India Low in Personal Freedom, High on Life Satisfaction

India ranked low in most domains in the Legatum Prosperity Index, but it fared pretty well on the Average Life Satisfaction ranking 10th among the 110 countries. Though the current living standards are low in India, the population is optimistic about their economic future. India is also noted to perform poorly in healthcare and human capital sector. The individual freedom of the country was seen to be limited while family and religion are important factors in the Indian society. India is seen to have a well-regulated and stable democratic structure. As for the safety, it is noted that threats arise from political violence and crime.

India ranked 91st on the Legatum Prosperity Index. The index aims at measuring the prosperity in 110 countries which accounts for more than 90 percent of the world population. The Index defines prosperity as both wealth and wellbeing where it was found that the nations that have a high GDP are not necessarily most prosperous. It also takes into consideration the nations that have happy, healthy, and free citizens. The index was measured under eight main criteria’s namely – Economy, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, Governance, Education, Health, Safety and Security, Personal Freedom and Social Capital.

Zambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Central African Republic were seen in the bottom 10 of the list. Kenya, Pakistan, Yemen and Ethiopia were seen having weak performance in all eight streams. Central African Republic ranked 79 in personal freedom. Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe ranked 54, 39 and 78 respectively in social capital. Mozambique ranked 77 in both economy and governance. Zambia ranked 75 and 63 in the governance and social capital domains respectively.

 Top 5 on the list were:

Norway: Norway ranked 1st on the Legatum Prosperity Index. The Average Life Satisfaction Ranking was 3 out of the 110 countries and it was noted that citizens are extremely satisfied with standards of living in Norway. The Per Capita GDP Ranking was 2 and the UN Human Development Index ranking was 1 out of 169 countries. The index also suggested that Norway has a favorable environment for entrepreneurs.

Norway has a democracy which is highly developed and the country ranked first for its strong protection of political rights. Norway ranks 4th in education as it provide high- quality education and the educational satisfaction is high among the Norwegians. In the healthcare domain too, Norway ranks 4th and the citizens are said to enjoy long healthy lives due to a strong healthcare infrastructure. The citizens have a life expectancy of 73 years, when adjusted for healthy years lived. 94 percent of Norwegians were satisfied with the beauty of their physical environment.

In the safety and security domain Norway ranked 2nd. The citizens enjoy low levels of crime and a high level of security. Political violence in Norway is virtually non-existent. Norwegians are tolerant of outsiders and have the second highest proportion of citizens satisfied with their freedom to choose in life. Norway also ranked 1st in social capital domain as the Norwegian society benefits from high levels of societal trust and social engagement.

Denmark: Denmark ranked second on the Legatum Prosperity Index. The country ranked 1 among 110 countries in the average life satisfaction. Denmark has a strong economy and satisfied citizens, but attracts little foreign direct investment. The highly developed economy of Denmark has a strong foundation for future growth. In the entrepreneurship and opportunity domain the country ranks 1st as it offers equal opportunities and a highly favorable climate to entrepreneurs. The country benefits from high levels of innovation.

In the governance domain Denmark ranked 3rd. The country has a highly developed democracy, with high levels of political participation and confidence. Denmark is known to have a well-regulated electoral process and the second most efficient government in the world. In the education domain the country ranks 5th. High-quality education is provided at all levels of schooling.

The Danes’ express dissatisfaction with their health system despite having met with the basic health needs.  The life expectancy of the citizens is 72 years adjusted by healthy years lived. The Danish society poses negligible security concerns and ranks 8th on the security domain. On the personal freedom domain, Danish citizens enjoy exceptional personal freedoms and are largely tolerant of outsiders. The country also fared well in the social capital. The Danish society is a strong society and displays high levels of mutual trust.

Australia: Australia takes the third position in the Legatum Prosperity Index. It ranks 2 out of 169 countries in the UN human development index. In the economy and entrepreneurship & opportunity domain the country ranked 7th. Australia has strong basis for future improvements in wellbeing. The high standards of living of the Australians mirror the country’s solid macroeconomic position. It is also noted that Australian businesses have a very low start-up cost and the country has good levels of innovation.

 In the governance domain the country is seen ranking 6th. The country’s democracy is seen having effective governance, high levels of accountability and full political rights. Also, public confidence in the military is high, as is confidence in the judicial system. Australia ranked 1st in the education domain. The citizens enjoy good access to high quality education and perform significantly better than the global average. 95 percent Australians agree that children in Australia have an opportunity to learn and grow every day.

In the health domain it is noted that Australia’s population is generally healthy, although rates of immunization can improve. Australia has a health-adjusted life expectancy of 74 years. As for the safety and security domain Australians benefit from the country’s stable and low levels of crime. In the personal freedom domain Australians enjoy freedom of choice and live in a tolerant society. Australia ranks fourth on the social capital domain. The country enjoys very high levels of social unity although there is mixed evidence regarding community and family networks.

New Zealand: New Zealand takes the fourth position on Legatum Prosperity Index. As for the performance in the economy domain, New Zealand is sound on most variables, although GDP growth has been poor in current years. The country has a strong macroeconomic position. New Zealand has a moderate degree of innovation but a broad access to opportunity. In the governance domain New Zealand ranked 2nd as it has a very stable political system and an effective governance.

In the education domain New Zealand ranked second. The country is seen to have a strong education system. It is noted that strengths in the education system draw a parallel with high levels of human capital. New Zealand has a strong health infrastructure that results in a healthy population. The country has a life expectancy of 73 years, adjusted by healthy years lived. As for the country’s security there is no problem, but New Zealanders face some concerns over personal safety. The country has ranked 2nd in the personal freedom domain. New Zealanders are seen to have both very high levels of personal freedom and perceived social tolerance. The country was seen to rank 3rd in the social capital domain. New Zealand has extremely high levels of trust and social engagement.

Sweden: Sweden ranks fifth in the Legatum Prosperity Index. It is noted that despite low growth, Sweden has high standards of living and strong foundations for the future. In the economic domain the country acquired the 6th position. The country has a good entrepreneurship opportunity and provides a strong infrastructure for entrepreneurship. The levels of innovation are also high. The country enjoys very good overall governance. The country is said to have skilled and efficient bureaucracy. As for the education domain Sweden has an outstanding education system that gives rise to an educated and contented populace.

In regard to the health domain Sweden is seen to have a good quality healthcare and most citizens have very high expectations. Swedish citizens expressed moderate levels of satisfaction with their personal health. Sweden was seen at the 5th position in the safety and security domain. Sweden’s levels of personal safety are above average for a European nation but it faces few major security threats. It is noted that the country predictably suffers little from emigration of professionals or political dissidents. In the personal freedom domain Swedish citizens are satisfied with their levels of personal freedom and are seen to be a very tolerant people. In the social capital domain Sweden ranked 7th and has a good level of social capital, but citizens are more likely to donate money than time.