Special Report

The Most (and Least) Healthy Countries in the World

3. Norway
> Life expectancy:
81.5 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 2.0
> Health expenditure per capita: $6,308
> Unemployment rate: 3.4%

While other Nordic countries have among the healthiest populations in the world, Norway compares slightly better by several measures. For example, there are 4.3 physicians for every 1,000 Norwegians, a higher rate than in all but three countries. The nation also has an infant mortality rate of two deaths for every 1,000 live births, fourth lowest in the world. Affluence tends to correlate with a healthier population as residents of wealthier nations have access to better treatment and healthier diet and exercise options. Norway’s GDP per capita of $67,166 is more than $20,000 greater than that of Denmark, Sweden, or Finland.

2. Qatar
> Life expectancy:
78.4 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 6.8
> Health expenditure per capita: $2,882
> Unemployment rate: 0.3%

Qatar stands out as the only Middle Eastern nation to make this list. Until recently, it also stood out as one of few healthy nations without a state-run health care system, although that is no longer the case — the Qatari government implemented a universal single-payer system in 2014. The nation is able to afford the new health care system for its roughly 2.2 million residents due its relative wealth. Qatar is a large oil and natural gas producer, operations that are largely government controlled. As a result, Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world at $137,162 per person — a greater GDP than that of the 50 poorest nations in the world combined. Wealth is important to improving health as it allows access to better care. There are 1.5 deaths for every 1,000 Qatari residents each year. In contrast, the U.S. death rate is 8.2 deaths per 1,000 people.

1. Luxembourg
> Life expectancy:
81.8 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 1.5
> Health expenditure per capita: $6,518
> Unemployment rate: 6.1%

Luxembourg has one of the higher smoking rates among women and one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Despite these behaviors, the small European nation boasts the healthiest population in the world. Luxembourg has the lowest infant mortality rate, at 1.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births — less than a third of the U.S. rate. The country has one of the longest life expectancies in the world, at nearly 82 years on average.

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