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The richest countries do not always register a better quality of life or social progress

Los países más ricos no siempre son los que registran mejor calidad de vida y progreso social

Countries’ wealth and quality of life do not always move in the same direction. Some countries have high Gross Domestic Products but heir indexes on quality of life and social progress are very low.

15 july 2016

The concepts of wealth and quality of life maintain a close relation, but they do not always move in the same direction. A report by the SPI (Social Progress Imperative) highlights the tendency of countries with high GDPs to have low indexes of life quality and social progress.

The SPI works on the study and analysis of current societies in search of common challenges to promote progress and development among all social actors: governments, private companies and citizens. One of such challenges is to re-conduct economic profit towards social progress at all of its levels.

The indicators taken into account to evaluate progress and life quality indexes were the following:

  • Basic needs: health care, education, housing.
  • Welfare: life expectancy, access to technology and education.
  • Opportunity: individual rights, freedom, tolerance...

Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait hold a high GDP but very low life quality indexes

Contradictory tendencies

Nordic Countries, lead by Finland, lead the classification of places with best life quality along with Canada, Australia or Switzerland. Its citizens enjoy a firm social welfare system supported by Health Care, Education and other social benefits. Likewise, they also enjoy individual freedom armoured by democratic states.

Many of these countries maintain high levels year after year, Norway registered a GDP of almost 70,000€ in 2015 and achieved a 88,7 out of 100 points in quality of life becoming the seventh best country to live in. However, states such as Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirates or Kuwait also got a similar GDP to that of Norway or Switzerland and even higher to that of Finland; still they are very far behind in terms of social progress or quality of life. Saudi Arabia is close to 50 points while Kuwait, the richest country, is slightly  over 70.

Another big difference can be found in the life quality indexes registered in European countries such as Spain, Great Britain, Portugal or Slovenia, which register a per capita income between 25,000 and 35,000 dollars. In the same wealth fringe we find Russia, Israel or Malaysia, but they have a lower life quality indexes.


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