May 24, 2013
'Argentina 19 times worst place to be born than 25 years ago,' The Economist
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist, has released today its 2013 where-to-be-born index, which measures which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead. Argentina appears as a 19 times worst place to be born than first index published in 1988.
Its quality-of-life index links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are—to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries. Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account. They are a mixed bunch: some are fixed factors, such as geography; others change only very slowly over time (demography, many social and cultural characteristics); and some factors depend on policies and the state of the world economy.
With Switzerland leading the rank, Argentina remains 40th compared to last year’s index. But a quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, Argentina was ranked 21st.
Latin American countries that outscored Argentina were Chile (23), Costa Rica (30), Brazil (37), and México (39). Trailing from behind were Colombia (42), Perú (43), and Venezuela (44).
While the United States used to be the most prosperous place to be born for a baby in 1988, things have changed as it now appears in the 16th position.
According to EIU, “US was helped to the top spot back in 1988 by the inclusion in the ranking of a “philistine factor” (for cultural poverty) and a “yawn index” (the degree to which a country might, despite all its virtues, be irredeemably boring). Switzerland scored terribly on both counts. In the film “The Third Man”, Orson Welles’s character, the rogue Harry Lime, famously says that Italy for 30 years had war, terror and murder under the Borgias but in that time produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance; Switzerland had 500 years of peace and democracy—and produced the cuckoo clock.”
The Economist also explained that “although many of the drivers of the quality of life are slow-changing, for this ranking some variables, such as income per head, need to be forecast. For making it possible, we use the EIU’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood.”
Likewise, it was remarked that “despite the global economic crisis, times have in certain respects never been so good. Output growth rates have been declining across the world, but income levels are at or near historic highs. Life expectancy continues to increase steadily and political freedoms have spread across the globe, most recently in north Africa and the Middle East. In other ways, however, the crisis has left a deep imprint—in the euro zone, but also elsewhere—particularly on unemployment and personal security. In doing so, it has eroded both family and community life.”
Where-to-be-born index 2013 (Top Ten)
7 New Zealand
10 Hong Kong