World Facts

The "Where-to-be-Born" Index: The Highest And Lowest Scoring Countries

The "where-to-be-born" index measures the ability of a country to provide the best opportunities for its citizens.

What is the "Where-to-be-Born" Index?

The where-to-be-born index is published by the Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist Group, (most well-known for The Economist magazine). The index analyzes which countries around the world have the potential to provide the highest quality of life to its citizens. This includes health, safety, and prosperity for the future of the country. For example, the 2013 index measures the quality of life for the year 2030, when the individuals born in 2013 will be adults.

How is the "Where-to-be-Born" Index Calculated?

The where-to-be-born index is calculated by connecting the responses to subjective surveys, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita forecasts, and quality of life factors. For the 2013 index, information was collected from 80 countries. Some of the quality of life indicators include: life expectancy at birth, political freedoms, climate, corruption in government, gender equality, divorce rates, unemployment rate, and homicide rate.

The Best Places to Be Born

In 2013, Switzerland ranked highest on the where-to-be-born index. Out of a possible 10, this country scored 8.22. Some of the strongest factors contributing to its ranking are the possibility for wealth accruement and trust in public institutions.

Most of the other countries on the top 10 list are characterized by relatively small economies. Additionally, half of the top 10 list are located in Europe. Of these European nations, only the Netherlands is included in the euro zone. The top 10 countries include: Switzerland (8.22), Australia (8.12), Norway (8.09), Sweden (8.02), Denmark (8.01), Singapore (8.00), New Zealand (7.95), the Netherlands (7.94), Canada (7.81), and Hong Kong (7.80).

Many nations that historically rank lower on the index have managed to move up the list recently. This is due to an increase in income levels, improved life expectancies, and a rise in political freedoms across the globe.

Countries Moving Down the "Where-to-be-Born" Index

While many countries have been able to improve their standing on the where-to-be-born index, others have seen their ranking decrease significantly. For example, when the index was first published in 1988, the US ranked number 1. Since then, researchers have adjusted the methodology and quality of life in the US has declined. Today, it is further down the list with a ranking of 7.38 at number 16 (shared with Germany). One of the reasons cited for this change is that the youngest generation will be burdened in the future by the significant debts of the Baby Boomer generation (those born after World War II).

Other European countries, particularly those in the Eurozone, experienced significant challenges during the global economic crisis. These nations are still reeling from high unemployment rates and increased instances of personal property crime and murders, which have, in turn, decreased the quality of family and social life. These European countries that have moved down the index in recent years include: France (7.04), Spain (6.96), Portugal (6.92), and Greece (6.65).

The Worst Places to Be Born

Nigeria ranks last on the where-to-be-born index with a score of 4.74. Some of the major factors influencing this score include the current political instability and violence between the Boko Haram military forces and civilian groups. Nigerian children born in 2013 are likely to face forced labor, forced marriages, and a nearly non-existent health and education infrastructure.

Other countries at the bottom of the list include: Indonesia (5.54), Russia (5.31), Syria (5.29), Kazakhstan (5.20), Pakistan (5.17), Angola (5.09), Bangladesh (5.07), Ukraine (4.98), and Kenya (4.91).

The Where-to-be-born Index: The Highest And Lowest Scoring Countries

RankCountryScore (out of 10)
1 Switzerland8.22
2 Australia8.12
3 Norway8.09
4 Sweden8.02
5 Denmark8.01
6 Singapore8.00
7 New Zealand7.95
8 Netherlands7.94
9 Canada7.81
10 Hong Kong7.80
11 Finland7.76
12 Ireland7.74
13 Austria7.73
14 Taiwan7.67
15 Belgium7.51
16 Germany7.38
17 United States7.38
18 United Arab Emirates7.33
19 South Korea7.25
20 Israel7.23
21 Italy7.21
22 Kuwait7.18
23 Chile7.10
24 Cyprus7.10
25 Japan7.08
26 France7.04
27 United Kingdom7.01
28 Czech Republic6.96
29 Spain6.96
30 Costa Rica6.92
31 Portugal6.92
32 Slovenia6.77
33 Poland6.66
34 Greece6.65
35 Slovakia6.64
36 Malaysia6.62
37 Brazil6.52
38 Saudi Arabia6.49
39 Mexico6.41
40 Argentina6.39
41 Cuba6.39
42 Colombia6.27
43 Peru6.24
44 Estonia6.07
45 Venezuela6.07
46 Croatia6.06
47 Hungary6.06
48 Latvia6.01
49 China5.99
50 Thailand5.96
51 Turkey5.95
52 Dominican Republic5.93
53 South Africa5.89
54 Algeria5.86
55 Serbia5.86
56 Romania5.85
57 Lithuania5.82
58 Iran5.78
59 Tunisia5.77
60 Egypt5.76
61 Bulgaria5.73
62 El Salvador5.72
63 Philippines5.71
64 Sri Lanka5.71
65 Ecuador5.70
66 India5.67
67 Morocco5.67
68 Vietnam5.64
69 Jordan5.63
70 Azerbaijan5.60
71 Indonesia5.54
72 Russia5.31
73 Syria5.29
74 Kazakhstan5.20
75 Pakistan5.17
76 Angola5.09
77 Bangladesh5.07
78 Ukraine4.98
79 Kenya4.91
80 Nigeria4.74

More in World Facts