Special Report

25 Best Countries to Live in the World

10. New Zealand
> Population:
4.6 million
> GNI per capita: $32,689
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.8 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 95.2%

New Zealand’s economy is more agriculturally-based than most advanced nations. The 6.6% of New Zealand’s workforce employed in agriculture is a larger share than in each of the 25 most livable countries except for South Korea and Slovenia. Although New Zealand’s income per capita of $32,689 is lower than the average GNI per capita of $37,658 across all OECD nations, its residents still enjoy one of the highest standards of living on the globe.

The average New Zealand adult spends 12.5 years in school, the 10th most of any country. If current enrollment trends continue, young New Zealanders can expect to receive about 19 years of schooling, more years of expected schooling than in any nation other than Australia.

9. Canada
> Population:
35.5 million
> GNI per capita: $42,155
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.0 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 99.9%

Canada has one of the better-educated populations in the world. Nearly all adult citizens — 99.9% of residents 25 and over — have a at least some secondary education. The nation’s students also score among the best in the world on standardized math, science and reading exams for 15 year olds. The United States often compares its own health care system to Canada’s public system. Based on life expectancy at birth, it appears that Canadians are healthier on average than citizens of most other countries. Also, just 81 males and 51 females out of every 1,000 people are not expected to live past 60 years in Canada, one of the lowest adult mortality rates among nations reviewed by the HDI.

8. United States
> Population:
322.6 million
> GNI per capita: $52,947
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 95.0%

With a GDP of $16.2 trillion, the U.S. economy is the largest in the world. Workers in the United States are also among the world’s most productive. On average, each U.S. worker contributes $91,710 to the economy, third in the OECD after only Luxembourg and Norway.

Younger American students lag behind many of their peers abroad. U.S. students rank 22nd in the world in reading performance, 34th in math, and 26th in science. One potential explanation for the relatively poor academic performance may be a lack of investment in education. The United States spends only 5.2% of its GDP on education, a lower expenditure than most OECD nations. However, based on the tertiary enrollment rate, Americans are more likely to pursue higher education than residents of every other country except for Greece and South Korea.

7. Ireland
> Population:
4.7 million
> GNI per capita: $39,568
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.9 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 79.6%

Like in many of Western Europe’s wealthier nations, Ireland has relatively strong medical institutions and its residents are healthy. Just 3.2 out of every 1,000 newborns die before age 1, for example, almost half the infant mortality rate of 6.48 deaths per 1,000 newborns across all OECD nations. Similarly, just 82 males and 49 females per 1,000 Irish residents die before the age of 60, each significantly less than the OECD male and female mortality rates of 60.5 and 112.5, respectively.

Ireland residents spend 12.2 years in school on average, one of the higher mean years of schooling in the world. If current enrollment trends continue, Irish children can expect to receive an average of 18.6 years of education, the fifth most of countries reviewed.

6. Germany
> Population:
82.7 million
> GNI per capita: $43,919
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.9 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 96.6%

The 1990 Human Development Report ranked Germany as the 12th most livable country. The 2015 report ranks Germany sixth in the world for the third consecutive year. The Western European nation does especially well in educational measures. The average number of years of schooling among German citizens is 13.1, higher than in every other country reviewed. German students also rank among the top 20 countries in the world in reading, math, and science. Germany, which is one of a minority of countries with a female head of state, is ahead of most countries in gender equality. Roughly 36.9% of parliament seats are held by women, a larger share than in all but 21 other countries.

Germany is also a relatively safe country. With fewer than 1 homicide for every 100,000 residents reported each year, it has one of the lowest murder rates of the 188 countries examined. By contrast, it is significantly lower than the 4.7 homicides for every 100,000 U.S. residents annually.