Special Report

25 Best Countries to Live in the World

5. Netherlands
> Population:
16.8 million
> GNI per capita: $45,435
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.6 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 89.0%

The Netherlands, like many other Western European nations, has a high life expectancy and a strong education system. The Netherlands spends 12.9% of its $755.3 billion GDP on public health, a higher share than any country other than the United States. Partially as a result, Dutch citizens have remarkably good health outcomes. The Netherlands’ infant mortality rate of 3.3 deaths per 1,000 newborns is almost half of the infant mortality rate across OECD nations. Similarly, the country’s 81.6 year life expectancy at birth is among the highest worldwide.

A higher share of Dutch children are enrolled in secondary school than in all but two other countries. If current enrollment patterns continue, a Dutch child can expect to receive about 18 years of schooling, the seventh highest of any nation.

4. Denmark
> Population:
5.6 million
> GNI per capita: $44,025
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.2 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 96.1%

High public spending on education helps Danish citizens enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Denmark spends 8.8% of its $235.7 billion GDP on public education, compared to the average OECD expenditure 5.1%. Partially as a result, Denmark has a higher share of students enrolled in secondary school than in all but three other countries. If current enrollment patterns continue, Dutch children can expect to receive 18.7 years of education, a longer period than in all but three other countries.

Compared to most advanced economies, Denmark is relatively safe. There is less than one homicide per 100,000 Danes, much less than the 4 murders per 100,000 persons across all OECD nations.


3. Switzerland
> Population:
8.2 million
> GNI per capita: $56,431
> Life expectancy at birth: 83.0 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 95.7%

Switzerland is home to one of the healthiest populations in the world. Life expectancy at birth in the nation is 83 years, higher than in all but three other countries. A long life expectancy may be attributable to higher than average investment in public health. Switzerland spends 11.5% of its total GDP on public health, one of the largest shares in the world. Switzerland is also a relatively safe country. With roughly 0.6 homicides for every 100,000 residents, the country’s murder rate is one of the lowest of countries reviewed.

Along with health and safety, the Swiss also do well by several education-related measures. The country’s schools are proving effective as Swiss students rank seventh in the world in mathematics. They also rank among the 20 top in reading and science.

2. Australia
> Population:
23.6 million
> GNI per capita: $42,261
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.4 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 94.4%

By international standards of wealth, health, and education, Australia is the second most livable country. Australia currently has the highest share of children enrolled in secondary school of any nation. Australian children are expected to spend over two decades getting an education in their lifetimes, the highest years of expected schooling worldwide.

Relatively few adults in Australia die prematurely. Just 45 females and 78 males for every 1,000 Australians die before reaching the age of 60, much lower than the adult mortality rates of 61 females and 113 males for every 1,000 people who die prematurely across all OECD nations. At the age of 60, the average Australian can expect to live for about 25 more years, the third highest old-age life expectancy on the planet.

1. Norway
> Population:
5.1 million
> GNI per capita: $64,992
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.6 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 97.1%

While each of the Scandinavian nations has historically done very well in the HDI, Norway has ranked first in each of the last five years of the report’s release. Like most other nations with a high quality of life, Norway’s population tends to be very wealthy. The country’s GNI per capita of $64,992 is among the highest in the world. It is also more than $12,000 per person higher than the U.S. GNI per capita. Like its Scandinavian neighbors, wealth and other aspects, such as employment and political power, are relatively evenly distributed throughout the population based on gender. The country ranks as one of the best of countries reviewed in the HDI gender equality index.

Click here to see the 25 least livable countries in the world.