Iceland once again scores in the top five for standards of living, this time in the number three seat, according to the lastest UN Human Development Report.
Norway and Australia were in the first and second position, respectively, while the United States ranked #13 and the UK #21. 182 countries in all were ranked, with the lower 23 comprised almost entirely of African nations; Niger coming in last.
Norway has been in the top position nearly every year since 2001, except from 2007 and 2008, when Iceland held the lead. Keep in mind that these rankings are based on statistics gathered from two years before – hence Iceland’s 2008 number one ranking was based on conditions in the country and the world at large in 2006.
The HDI is not without its share of critics, however. Economist Bryan Caplan has said that Scandinavian countries typically come out on top in the survey, because the HDI is a measurement of “how Scandinavian your country is,” arguing that the survey is redundant, and focuses almost exclusively on income levels but neglects to factor in ecological components.
The HDI, for its part, argues that the aim of the survey “is to stimulate global, regional and national policy discussions on issues that are relevant to human development” and “requires the highest standards of data quality, consistency, transparency and accountability.”