Lonely Planet Writer

Denmark tops the rankings as the country with the best quality of life in the world

A new study has put Denmark first for quality of life from an analysis of 128 countries. The 2017 Social Progress Index study used 50 different indicators to measure a country’s performance based on social and environmental outcome factors, and it claims to be the first measure of quality of life that is independent of economic factors. It captured three dimensions of social progress: basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunity.

The Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen, Denmark. Image: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images
The Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen, Denmark. Image: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

The top twenty countries were found to be: 1. Denmark 2. Finland 3. Iceland 4. Norway 5. Switzerland 6. Canada 7. the Netherlands 8. Sweden 9. Australia 10. New Zealand 11. Ireland 12. United Kingdom 13. Germany 14. Austria 15. Belgium 16. Spain 17. Japan 18. USA 19. France and 20. Portugal.

Denmark scored over 95% on a number of categories, including personal rights, nutrition and basic medical care, water and sanitation, access to basic knowledge, access to information and communications. It scored 89% or over in personal safety, environmental quality, and personal freedom and choice.

The Social Progress Index study 2017. Social Progress Imperative
The Social Progress Index study 2017. Social Progress Imperative

The report revealed a small increase in world social progress from 2014 over that period from 63.19 to 64.85 on a scale of 0-100. 113 out of 128 countries have shown improvement overall, but the gap in quality of life between rich and poor countries is the largest challenge the world faces, according to the report.

Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid statue. Image: kkg4678/Budget Travel
Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid statue. Image: kkg4678/Budget Travel

The analysis was put together by economists Michael E. Porter and Scott Stern of Harvard and MIT universities, and according to Michael Green, director of Social Progress Imperative, the world is making progress but every country can still  do better. “We are struggling to ensure the rights of freedom and tolerance for all,” he said in a press statement.

To see the full report, click here.