Norway still the best place to live

The United Nations has once again ranked Norway  as the best country in the world in which to live, but at least one top opposition politician is not impressed. The UN’s Human Development Index for 2010 puts Norway at the top of this year’s list of 169 countries, with Zimbabwe at the bottom.

Norwegians can wave their flag over the latest UN index ranking their country as the best place in the world to live. PHOTO: Views and News

Norway has topped the list several times in recent years, after scoring highest in terms of such factors as life expectancy, earnings, education levels, the likelihood to be the victim of crime and equality between men and women.

Norwegians, according to the UN, can expect to live to age 81, have nearly 13 years of schooling on average and only 33 of every 100,000 are vulnerable to being affected by crime.

Australia ranked number two this year, followed by New Zealand, the US and Ireland. Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and German rounded off the top 10 countries.

At the bottom of the list were Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Burundi, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Mali.

See the full list here. (external link)

Norwegians seem generally rather proud of ranking tops, year after year, in their quality of life, but opposition politicians seized the chance to question any credit being given to Norway’s current left-center coalition government, which has run the country for the past six years.

The ranking, claimed Per-Kristian Foss of the Conservative Party, “is just as undeserved for this government as it was for us,” Foss told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Foss was Norway’s finance minister in an earlier center-right coalition government when Norway also ranked on top.

Foss thinks the average Norwegian would be better off if he or she had something more to strive for, instead of often being told Norway is the best. He fears the UN’s top ranking, like several other international scorecards where Norway comes out well, can lead to a form of complacency.

“We have our oil money and the good fortune that our industries weren’t hit hard during the finance crisis,” Foss told DN.

When asked whether Norwegian politicians shouldn’t be able to claim some of the credit for policies that clearly function well, Foss replied that the UN ranking simply is “a result of policies that have been furthered for years.”

He was clearly unwilling to give the current government any credit, allowing only that “things are good now, but we have challenges tied to the aging of the population and oil revenues that may stop.” His party is hoping to seize power in the next national election in 2013.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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