The standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, necessities, and material goods available to a certain geographic area. Quality of life is the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by a group.
The Social Progress Imperative is a not-for-profit organization that defines “social progress as the capacity of society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.”
The Social Progress Imperative uses the Social Progress Index to rank countries based on their quality of life. The Social Progress Index combines the scores of three main indexes:
- Basic Human Needs (health care, sanitation, and shelter)
- Foundations of Wellbeing (life expectancy and access to education and technology)
- Opportunity (personal rights, freedom of choice, and general tolerance)
This suggests that GDP is not the only gauge for a higher standard of living; however, the top ten countries with the highest quality of life rankings are developed nations. Having a strong economy has a positive impact on providing the three indexes.
The table below also provides indexes for safety, health care, pollution, and climate, all factors that contribute to the quality of life, health, and happiness of a group of people.
Based on these factors, the ten countries with the highest quality of life are:
- New Zealand
Denmark has the highest quality of life index of 196.47. Denmark has high social mobility and impressive equality rates. Denmark scores very high in the “basic human needs” index, particularly in medical care and sanitation with scores above 99.0%.
The United States is ranked 13th in the quality of life index at 176.77. The US safety index and health care index are relatively low compared to other nations with a very high quality of life.
Below is a table with each country’s quality of life index, as well as their safety index, health care index, pollution index, and climate index.