Special Report

The Most (and Least) Healthy Countries in the World

10. Netherlands
> Life expectancy:
81.1 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 3.2
> Health expenditure per capita: $5,601
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%

The Netherlands is one of the healthiest countries in the world by several measures. The country has among the lowest rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality, as well as extremely low rates of tuberculosis — a disease that is rare in the West but still a serious concern in parts of the world. Someone born in the country can expect to live to 81.1 years, longer than in the majority of countries and 2.3 years on longer than the typical American. Like most nations with healthy populations, the Dutch spend among the most on health care. The country’s total health spending of $5,601 per person is fifth highest in the world. Like most countries with healthier populations, the Netherlands has a government-sponsored health care system, and citizens are automatically covered for long-term and nursing care, although they must purchase their own plan for basic services.

9. Germany
> Life expectancy:
81.0 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 3.1
> Health expenditure per capita: $4,812
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%

Like most advanced industrial countries, Germans enjoy the basic amenities that contribute to a healthy population, including such clean water and universal access to electricity. Germans are also much more likely to be able to access health care than residents in most nations, as there are 3.9 physicians for every 1,000 residents, more than in nearly every country in the world. Possibly a result of this widespread access, Germany also spends more than most nations on health care, at $4,812 per person. Unchecked population growth can result in health and public administration problems. Germany’s expected birth rate is just 8.5 births for every 1,000 people each year, and the country’s population is growing at one-quarter the rate of many less healthy nations.

8. Austria
> Life expectancy:
80.9 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 2.9
> Health expenditure per capita: $4,885
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%

Austria, like its neighbor Germany, has one of the healthiest populations in the world. Safe childbirth is often an indicator of how healthy a country’s population is and of the quality of its medical system. In Austria, the infant mortality rate is a relatively low 2.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is also relatively low at 4.0 deaths for every 1,000 live births. In the United States, which still compares favorably to many countries, the corresponding rates are 5.6 and 14.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. One potential detriment to the Austria’s health is the high smoking rate among adults. An estimated 35.9% of the country’s women and 37.4% of the country’s men smoke, each higher than most countries. Like most nations with healthier populations, Austria has a socialized health care system. Citizens and visitors alike are able to access basic free care as needed.

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