Mar 4, 2011

It’s official: Australia is the No.1 place to be

While nobody was noticing, late last year Australia pipped Norway to achieve the highest standard of living in the world.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

For every Australian tired of bad news — disasters, political disputes and public people behaving badly — here is some good news. While nobody was noticing, late last year Australia pipped Norway to achieve the highest standard of living in the world.

Standards of living used to be equated with national wealth divided by the number of people — per capita GDP — and this is still part of the measurement. However, standards of living involve a complex range of factors, including income distribution, longevity, infant and maternal mortality rates, education, crime rates, natural disasters and so on. These are known as Human Development Indicators (HDI).

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9 thoughts on “It’s official: Australia is the No.1 place to be

  1. drsmithy

    It also means that things might have slid over that time, although the only real negative since 2008 has been in the shape of natural disasters — some really nasty fires and a couple of very bad floods.

    I’d have to say the massive increase in cost of living over the time period might count as well.

    Visiting home for the first time in three years late in 2010, I was gobsmacked to find even a carton of crap beer like VB was over $40, lunch at somewhere like the Coffee Club was pushing $15-$20 and groceries were horrific.

    Admittedly the effect was exacerbated as I’ve been living in the US for the last year, but those were the kind of prices I was used to from my time living in Zurich, and there’s no way any Australian city has the kind of atmosphere and services that Zurich offers to make up for the expense.

  2. Jim Reiher

    Australia has its problems, but clearly we are still a “lucky country”. Those of us who have lived overseas for a period of time, or even travelled overseas, realise how good we have it here. (I suppose if someone had only ever been out of Australia to Norway… they might not see it as much!)

  3. The Pav

    Personally I find such comparisons tiresome. Who cares if we are the best in the world?

    Surely the measure is are we the best we can be?

  4. Flower

    Ah yes “Australia is a lucky country……….. ” but it appears that pollution per capita and the lack of transparency in the extractive industries is irrelevant?

  5. Daniel


  6. Meski

    @Daniel: Perfect imitation there, I ROFLED.

    @Flower: When the rest of the world finds out, they’ll move here, that’ll lower the pollution per capita. (which is one way of lying with statistics – increase the denominator of what you’re measuring)

  7. Flower

    Indeed Meski and our dear leaders will guarantee it – “populate or perish.”

    In the following Climate Change Performance Index, Australia is coming third last. Second last is Kazakhstan and dead last is Saudi Arabia. Page 6

  8. Meski

    Australians pretty obviously don’t want to do anything about climate change, if you view the popularity polls of Labor since they introduced their carbon tax. Or maybe they think that the government should be implementing a magic pudding solution that won’t cost them anything. They’re certainly being coached in this belief by Abbott and his lackeys, I mean Alan Jones.

  9. Flower

    Canada’s Barrick Gold is the JV partner of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, the largest open pit gold project in Australia and Barrick has several other large projects in the country. From all accounts the gigantic Super Pit quarry in Kalgoorlie will not be backfilled but simply abandoned when the project shuts down in 2017. Rio Tinto has so many mining projects in Australia that they are too numerous to list.

    Isn’t it ironic then that Norway dumped Barrick Gold and Rio Tinto from their fantastic Sovereign Pension Fund for crimes against the environment? Norway’s Pension fund is the second largest in the world (around $512 billion), an ongoing legacy from the taxes and revenues collected from its oil production. Norway’s investments are determined by ethical assessment. Norway will not invest in tobacco companies but Australia’s Liberal Party does.

    In addition, Norway ranked sixth for climate change performance while Australia ranked a dismal 58. Norway’s climate change performance is up from last year, Australia’s performance is down.

    Meanwhile we can bask in the knowledge of having the highest living standards in the world while the diggers and dealers gloat over the tax free booty.

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