|--- The Best ---|
|--- The Worst ---|
|185||Central African Rep.||35.0|
The United Nations produces an annual Human Development Report which includes the Human Development Index. The factors taken into account include life expectancy, education and schooling and Gross National Income (GNI) amongst many others.
Norway has been the top of this list since ousting Canada in 2001. Although I display recent data as it is the most interesting, points are actually awarded for countries' average position for each decade; taken from 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. This dampens any effect of short-term changes that don't truly reflect on how much we should respect and emulate that country. Anyone can go on a spending spree, look good for a while, and then crash! A large country could do this for years and manage to bump up GNI, and therefore affect their ranking, before then crashing and burning. So the long-term HDI is more important than the
Liechtenstein tops the averages chart because it has had pretty good ratings, but, mostly because the countries that top the charts in recent decades (the Scandinavian countries) done less well in the 1980s, which brought down their average.
|Highest, in Years|
|Lowest, in Years|
|190||Central African Rep.||49.1|
Life Expectancy is already factored into the United Nation's Human Development Index, so, countries are not given scores again for this data. It is shown here just for interest's sake. Japan has topped this table for a long time; for example in 1989 its average life expectancy was 78.6 which was still higher than any other country3. Life expectancy reflects overall cultural health, including diet, the health services systems, attitudes to exercise and well being, and also family structure and caring. Life expectancy stats are sometimes skewed by taking into account immigration, so that much of the time stats are compiled of natural-born inhabitants only.
|148||Central African Rep.||3.6|
It is of course true that the happiest people are not those who are necessarily leading the best lives. Excess, indulgence and short-term policy can all lead to a high rating on this chart; things like living morally and frugally, for example, do not automatically go hand in hand with happiness. For this reason, this data is being shown on this page just for general interest and does not form part of the scoring for each country.
Despite the above disclaimer, it turns out to be true that those nations that score high on the moral and long-term issues on this page are also those who tend to be happiest.
|135||Central African Rep.||5.3|
“The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.”
Fraser Institute (2012)
The Economic Freedom of the World reports of the Fraser Institute combined multiple factors into a single index. These include government size and consumption, tax rates, judicial independence, protection of property rights, military interference in politics, the integrity of the legal system, enforced laws of contracts, regulatory restrictions, costs of crime to business, inflation, freedom in banking, tariffs and trade barriers, the black market, capital controls, trade freedoms, regulations on hiring and firing staff and costs of beaurocracy in business, and more.
|Best on Environment (2011)|
|Worst on Environment (2011)|
|161||Central African Rep.||33.3|
The worst countries on this scale generally use massive quantities of natural resources in an unsustainable manner and are host to massive-scale deforestation and have populations that are rising quickly. Between 1990 and 2008 Sierra Leone lost 11% of its forest area, for example. Central African Republic lost 2.3%. Turkmenistan and United Arab Emirates have only a tiny percentage of their primary energy supply sourced from renewables (both under 0.03%). Equatorial Guinea saw its CO2 emissions per person rise by 11% between 1970-2008, the second highest in the world after Bhutan. Incredibly for an island, under 13% of those in Haiti believe that human activity is causing global warming, whilst only 29% believe it in United Arab Emirates and Turkmenistan.
The best countries are not better in all criteria but normally excel in a few categories. Iceland produces 82% of its primary energy supply through renewable sources. Its CO2 emissions per person rose only by 0.1 percent. It more than doubled its forested area between 1990 and 2008. Switzerland reduced its CO2 emissions per person by 0.5% and also increased its forested areas.
|150||Central African Rep.||2.87|
"The 2012 Global Peace Index is the sixth edition of the world's leading study on global levels of peacefulness. The GPI ranks 158 nations using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, which gauge three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarisation. By generating new information on the state of peace at the national and global level, the Institute for Economics and Peace hopes to make a valuable contribution to better understanding how civil society, researchers, policymakers, and government can create a more peaceful society."
GPI Fact Sheet
Other comments on the creation of the Peace Index:
“The Dalai Lama said that he hoped the index would encourage countries to strive for peace. "Compiling and maintaining an index of which countries are the most peaceful and publishing the results will undoubtedly make the factors and qualities that contribute to that status better known and will encourage people to foster them in their own countries," he said.”
Despite the positive appeal of the Global Peace Index, it is imperfect and as with all international statistics, some countries appear to have a natural advantage. In this case, it is small countries which exist inside regional blocs, where their bigger neighbours spend on defence. You can't invade Denmark (2nd) or Switzerland (12th) without stepping on the toes of many other countries which have meatier defences, so there is less incentive for those countries to invest in defence. Although note that of course defence spending is only one of the many factors considered by the GPI, it is easy to imagine that a country such as Israel (151st), surrounded by aggressive neighbours, could never score well on this index.
|Best Rates (2011)|
|3||St Vincent & Grenadines||2.0|
|Most Dangerous Rates (2011)|
|175||Timor-Leste (E. Timor)||6.0|
The fertility rate is, in simple terms, the average amount of children that each woman has. The higher the figure, the quicker the population is growing, although, to calculate the rate you also need to take into account morbidity, i.e., the rate at which people die. If people live healthy and long lives and morbidity is low, then, 2.0 approximates to the replacement rate, which would keep the population stable. If all countries had such a fertility rate, population growth would end. The actual replacement rate in most developed countries is around 2.1.
In order to calculate the points for each country, I had to pick an optimum fertility rate, and then detract points as countries strayed from it. I have opted for the round figure of 2.0, slightly lower than the replacement rate, because the population right now is too high, therefore, the best fertility rate is probably one that will see a gradual decline in population numbers, at least for a few hundred years. The decline cannot be fast however, as this tends to create severe economic problems. So, any country that is either below 2.0 or above 2.0 loses points.
|Best Rates (2010)|
|5||St Vincent & Grenadines||2|
|28||Antigua & Barbuda||3|
|35||St Kitts & Nevis||3|
|Most Dangerous Rates (2010)|
|187||Central African Rep.||74|
|183||Papua New Guinea||65|
|177||Timor-Leste (E. Timor)||59|
The immunization deficiency value is the percent of one-year-olds missing the three DTP jabs plus the percent missing measles immunization. The DTP jab is the combined diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis jab. These four diseases represent such a horrible suite of diseases and are very widely promoted by health organisations, so, they represent the state of the country's attitude towards first-line medical science in general. An ignorant government, an irresponsible mass media and an ill-educated populace could all result in a lower acceptance of immunizations. The prominence of these four jabs plus the availability of statistics on delivery make this criteria a useful one for gauging societal development.
The benefits of immunization are self-evident for the health of the children themselves, but, there are wider implications. The fewer who are immunized, the greater the spread of outbreaks of serious disease, and, the fewer who are immunized, the greater the welfare costs, hospitalization costs, social losses and therefore, economic losses.
A scare caused by researcher Andrew Wakefield in 1998 saw stories appear across many news outlets about a link between autism and the MMR jab, causing significant reductions in the uptake of vaccines (it includes measles vaccination). The small study was overturned and found to be wrong, and, ten of the contributors withdrew their name from the paper. A "conflict of interest" was revealed that shed light on the bias behind his research: "at the time of its publication he was conducting research for a group of parents of autistic children seeking to sue for damages from MMR vaccine producers. Wakefield has applied for patents for an MMR vaccine substitute and [other related treatments]. So, not only was he allegedly paid by lawyers to cast doubt on the MMR vaccine, but he stood to gain personally from the outcome of his research". Unfortunately, the cheaper and most popular news outlets care for scare stories, and not for recalcitrations, so that many people were left misinformed.11
|Year and Country|
|20||Bosnia & Herzegovina||21|
There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score is 24.
“This ranking is comprised of the 8 core United Nations International Human Rights Treaties and their Optional Protocols, individual petition mechanisms under ICCPR, ICERD, CAT, CEDAW and CRPD, the Genocide Convention, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its two Additional Protocols, the Refugee Convention and its Protocol and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Argentina is, at this time, the only state that has ratified all of the treaties and accepted all the individual petition mechanisms. The Latin American and the Caribbean Group (GRULAC) has the highest number of ratifications, with 8 out of the 12 states ranking 1st and 2nd coming from the region. Western European and Others Group make up the other four states ranked second. The bottom end of the chart is made up predominantly of Asian states or small island states. Bhutan and Kiribati have the lowest ranking at just three ratifications each. Both have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Two of the five permanent members of the Security Council - France and the United Kingdom - are in the top five and two current non-permanent members - Costa Rica and Mexico - are joint second. Of the permanent members, the "The United States of America" by Vexen Crabtree (2013) scores the lowest with a ranking of 17. The Top 5 of the United Nations Development Index of 2008 are also in the top five of the Ratifications by Country list.”
NCHR Report (2009)
|Global Slavery Index|
|Global Slavery Index|
The Global Slavery Index was published for the first time in 2013. The rankings result from the estimated number of slaves as a percent of the population of the country, "a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. [...] The data on the level of human trafficking in and out of a country were taken from the US Trafficking in Persons report whilst the child marriage numbers are from UNICEF"14.
I did consider researching when each country abolished slavery and giving each a point per year, therefore rewarding those countries that were first to abolish it. Then, I would give this historical ranking a 50% weight, and give the Global Slavery Index a 50% weight. However, it is clear that countries that were involved in slavery were the first to come to abolish it (e.g. Spain in 1542), and therefore, such a historical index would be very unfair.
|Country and Year|
Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world.
Although literature talks of countries granting the "women's right to vote", in a democracy where all people have a voice in government it is more the case that women are "no longer denied their right to vote" rather than being "granted" a right that they already had, but, were denied.
The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, various other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.
United Nations Human Development Report 2005 lists when 185 countries granted women the ability to vote. Data here is amended to show the date from when women had both the right to vote and to stand for election. In some cases where the data is unclear, I use the date of the right to vote rather than have no data.
#1. "Sociology" by Anthony Giddens (1997) using Lisa Tuttle 'Encyclopedia of Feminism' (1986) p370-1.
#2. The Economist (2006 Sep 09) p29 article "The Swedish Model".
#3. Female suffrage by country", IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union). 1995. Women in Parliaments 1945-1995: A World Statistical Survey. Geneva and IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union). 2001. Correspondence on year women received the right to vote and to stand for election and year first woman was elected or appointed to parliament. March. Geneva. Retrieved from www.NationMaster.com 2012 Dec 24.
#4. http://www.onlinewomeninpolitics.org/suffr_chrono.htm which although this document is inconsistent in places, so is my source of last resort.
|142||Central African Rep.||0.65|
|134||Papua New Guinea||0.62|
The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. These are not factored into the HDI, therefore, countries get a separate range of points on my Social and Moral Development Index.
Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.
Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. LGBT folk face legal restrictions as well as social stigmatisation and violence17. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries17. The International LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of equal LGBT rights. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. The Economist (2012) produced a graph (below) for the USA and UK, and stated that "the British Social Attitudes Survey shows that views of homosexuality started out tough and hardened in the mid-1980s - the period of the AIDS panic. Since then they have softened (see chart). The young are more liberal than their parents"18. Over time, the situation is improving. Europe is by far the developed morally, with Scandinavia in particular being exemplary. The Middle East is by far the worst place to be anything other than straight.
Scores are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted."
"The same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway. [At the bottom are the] same three as last year - Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea".
It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".
This is an important category as internet access allows access to varied sources of information outside of state influence, and access to the information age is a massive boost to personal liberty and personal potential. Scores are derived from these categories:
14 countries improved their stance on allowing access to the Internet uncensored by political or ideological bias, since last year. Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia saw the biggest increases in authoritarian behaviour. In many countries, imprisonment and violence against journalists and bloggers increased, and Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws were increasingly enforced for online behaviour, reducing its ranking somewhat. "Only 4 of the 20 countries that recently experienced declines are considered electoral democracies. [...]"
"Regimes are covertly hiring armies of pro-government bloggers to tout the official point of view, discredit opposition activists, or disseminate false information about unfolding events [and] over the last year, it has been adopted in more than a quarter of the countries examined. The Bahraini authorities, for example, have employed hundreds of "trolls" whose responsibility is to scout popular domestic and international websites, and while posing as ordinary users, attack the credibility of those who post information that reflects poorly on the government."
This index measures to what extent countries produce spam and malware. Spam has threatened to destroy the world's email systems and has certainly cost the IT industry billions in mitigation. "Malware" is malicious software, and the index takes into account the number of servers based in country that are Botnet CnC machines (which are bad), and the numbers of servers that host malicious downloads, including some of those associated with the infamous Blackhole crimepak.
“Russia's authorities have historically been quite lax toward cybercriminals.”
Kaspersky Labs (2012)
The index also includes measures of host-based virus-detection from removable devices such as USB drives. This measures the danger in running IT systems in those locations, and probably reflects badly on the society and governments level of understanding of IT security in general.
Being a source of spam or malware is gauged as being four times worse than the other factors considered, especially as detection and block actions from antivirus are a good thing and only indirectly give away the fact that the IT security of the local environment is bad.
The data comes from a range of IT security companies including AVG, Kaspersky, McAfee and Sophos, covering 2010, 2011 and 2012 reports. In total, 17 reports' data were accumulated for this index, in all cases listing the worst offenders. In all this data only 83 unique countries appeared. All countries not on these lists have been given full points on account of no news being good news!
The upside to this IT Security index is that countries that are host to malware score lowly, bringing down their average scores. The downside to this negative index is that over 100 countries scored top points and many of these are not countries that have excellent IT security, but merely are countries that do not have much IT infrastructure. Hopefully a positive measure of IT security will resolve this in the future.
|Internet Users in Population (%)|
|16||Antigua & Barbuda||80.65|
|Internet Users in Population (%)|
Internet access has become an essential research tool. It facilitates an endless list of life improvements, from the ability to network and socialize without constraint, to access to a seemingly infinite repository of technical and procedural information on pretty much any task. The universal availability of data has sped up industrial development and personal learning at the national and personal level. Individuals can read any topic they wish regardless of the locality of expert teachers, and, entire nations can develop their technology and understanding of the world simply because they are now exposed to advanced societies and moral discourses online. Like every communications medium, the Internet has issues and causes a small range of problems, but these are insignificant compared to the advantages of having an online populace.
|Disbelief In God|
High rates of religion are associated with many inequalities and problems, for example male-dominated society and abuse of women, and gender inequality, poor adoption of human rights and anti-science and poor education policies. The Gallup (2009) data used here is used by the Social and Moral Index formula to grant points based on areligiosity. The data set on belief in god is only informational, as such personal beliefs are not the same thing as organised, endemic religion.
Over the last 60 years, religion in Europe has seen a strong decline. On average throughout the 27 EU countries, only half of its people believe in God19 and 25.4% directly say that they have no religion20. There is much variation from country to country. Only 16% of the populace of Estonia believe in God and the Scandinavian countries are highly atheist. But 95% believe in Malta. Two main social groups are particularly prone to belief in God; those over 55 years old and those whose education did not proceed beyond the 15-year-old stage.19. For a discussion on secularisation in general, see: "Secularisation Theory: Will Modern Society Reject Religion? What is Secularism?" by Vexen Crabtree
Despite the low rate of belief in God, many Europeans still claim to belong to theistic religions. 49.5% of the population of Europe say they are Catholic Christian, 15.7% say they're Muslim, 12.7% say they're Protestant Christian, 8.6% say they're Orthodox Christian and 0.4% say they are Jewish20. These numbers mean that at least 30% of Europeans are putting down a religion despite not believing in the very basic first principal of the religion they put down. In some places, this percent is higher. In France only 52% of Catholic believe in God and "only 18 percent define God according to the teachings of the Catholic Church"21. This is all because most people in Europe confuse religion and cultural heritage, and for many the actual beliefs of a religion don't really matter. For a discussion of this, see: "Institutionalized Religions Have Their Numbers Inflated by National Polls" by Vexen Crabtree.
|R & D|
|Country||% RDP PPP|
Research and Development is a long-term boost to Human understanding: science improves our knowledge of the world, and new products such as better batteries for devices can improve our quality of lives. The world needs discoveries to help combat climate change, mitigate starvation and fight disease. The ten countries that commit most to Research and Development (as a percent of their GDP PPP) are mostly predictable; Japan, Finland, Sweden and Denmark top most developmental indices of any kind. Also in the list can be found technologically savvy South Korea and Taiwan and a few well-developed European countries. The only surprise (for some) is Israel, sitting 2nd in the list.
Countries are only listed here if they appear in over 5 data sets otherwise their score could be inaccurate.
|--- The Best ---|
|26||St Vincent & Grenadines||74.9|
|34||Antigua & Barbuda||69.9|
|43||St Kitts & Nevis||68.1|
|71||Trinidad & Tobago||61.4|
|76||Bosnia & Herzegovina||59.8|
|112||Sao Tome & Principe||53.2|
|115||Timor-Leste (E. Timor)||53.0|
|142||Papua New Guinea||46.3|
|185||Central African Rep.||35.0|
Results charts have the best 5 countries marked with a green number, and the worst 5 marked with a red one. If there is a tie, then, the markers extend for as long as the tie continues. Sometimes the actual points are calculated to many significant figures, but, the results are only shown for 3 s.f. and in these cases, it might look like the flags do not extend enough. To view the data in more detail hover over any row to view in more detail what the actual points awarded were.
I have considered giving the UN HDR's rankings double the importance (allowing countries to score 0-200 for this data, instead of 0-100), as it includes multiple factors. However, it is not primarily concerned with morality, and one if its 3 criteria spreads is purely financial. It includes schooling years, but, I intend on also including a more potent statistic on that topic, measuring more than just school-age achievements.
For old stats, view the archived page: "Which Countries Set the Best Examples? (Archived page from 2005-2007)" by Vexen Crabtree (2005).
|The Best Countries|
|#1 Sweden||1683 points||x20|
|#2 Denmark||1598 points||x20|
|#3 Netherlands||1572 points||x20|
|#4 Finland||1514 points||x20|
|#5 Germany||1422 points||x21|
|#6 UK||1407 points||x21|
|#7 Canada||1373 points||x19|
|#8 Switzerland||1326 points||x18|
|#9 Norway||1320 points||x17|
|#10 Belgium||1208 points||x19|
Skeptical Inquirer. Pro-science magazine published bimonthly by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, New York, USA.
The Guardian. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source.
(2005) Democracy: A Beginner's Guide. Published by Oneworld Publications, Oxford, UK.
Clarke, Peter B.. Peter B. Clarke: Professor Emeritus of the History and Sociology of Religion, King's College, University of London, and currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, UK.
(2011) The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. First published 2009.
(2013) Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Third edition. Published by Cornell University Press.
(2009) Religiosity. gallup.com/poll/142727/.... The survey question was "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" and results are charted for those who said "yes". 1000 adults were polled in each of 114 countries.
(1997) Sociology. Hardback 3rd edition. First edition was 1989. Published by Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers Ltd. The Amazon link is to a newer version.
(2010) Future Agenda: The World In 2020. Published by Infinite Ideas.
Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg
(2009) Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations. Richard Lynn, John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg article "Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations" in Intelligence (2009 Jan/Feb) vol. 37 issue 1 pages 11-15. Online at www.sciencedirect.com, accessed 2009 Sep 15.
The Independent. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
(2011) Human Development Report. This edition had the theme of Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All. Published on the United Nation's website at hdr.undp.org/.../HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf (accessed throughout 2013, Jan-Mar). UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
(2013) Human Development Report. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Published on the United Nation's HDR website at hdr.undp.org/.../hdr2013/ (accessed throughout 2013). UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
Wenzel, Nikolai G.
(2011) Postmodernism and Religion. This essay is chapter 9 of "The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion" by Peter B. Clarke (2011) (pages p172-193).