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).