Caught almost daily in rickety boats, many drowning, it is no surprise that thousands of asylum seekers are detained – awaiting processing – off Australian shores.
As the latest compilation of statistics of well-being indicates, Australia may provide the best combination of democracy, wealth-equality, life-expectancy, employment, and so forth, among thirty-three leading economies.
Across averages of nine variables, from educational test scores to having sufficient food, Australia is ranked at the top of the list. Canada and the Netherlands are ranked two and three.
As in all global surveys, the ranking depends on how the numbers are arranged, averaged and reported. For example, Switzerland, Sweden and Hong Kong, might well have been ranked 1, 2 and 3 as these three economies each had at least leading-averages in two-thirds of the nine variables. However, Switzerland has an unfavorable ratio of wealth; Sweden low educational test results; and Hong Kong (Since 1997 administered by China.) ranks low for democracy, as well as having a highly unfavorable wealth ratio.
The compilation treats each variable equally. So the result is depends-what-you-may-think-is-important. If living in an egalitarian society is most important, then Sweden is tops. Want math and science for your children: the Asian counties are tops. Want a crime-free environment: Iceland has the lowest ratio of those in jail. The Japanese live the longest. The Danes, Swiss and Singaporeans are the least likely not to have enough money for food.
There is no reporting of suicide or STD rates or on available public transportation. Nor are there statistics on Russia, most of eastern Europe, Africa, or China, Latin America, or the Mid-East, or, say, Turkey.
It may be instructive, or satisfy curiosity, to see Israel, Spain, Greece, Portugal and the United States below Slovenia, Slovakia and Taiwan.
Note: The American author of this secondary analysis lives in Australia. The analysis is based upon International Monetary Fund statistics as illustrated in a News York Times, Op-Ed article, Empire at the End of Decadence, by Charles Blow, February 18, 2011.