The 50 Best Countries To Live In, In 2019

By Antonia Čirjak on June 17 2020 in World Facts

Scenic evening panorama of famous Nyhavn pier architecture in the Old Town of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Scenic evening panorama of famous Nyhavn pier architecture in the Old Town of Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • The Legatum Prosperity Index looks at 140 nations across the world and analyzes 104 different variables that help determine the countries with the best quality of life.
  • Economic quality is incredibly important because it is a variable that inspects the entire economy of a country and how well it can engage its workforce and generate profit.
  • Denmark scored high enough on all of the variables to take first place as the best country to live in.

When judging the quality of life in a specific country, it is incredibly hard to be objective. Everyone focuses on different things when trying to find a possible new place of residence, so we have to wonder if there even is a list that looks to determine what the best countries to live in are? As it turns out, there is. It is called the Legatum Prosperity Index, and the Legatum Institute publishes it. This index looks at 140 nations across the world and analyzes 104 different variables that help determine the countries with the best quality of life.

These variables are divided into twelve larger groups, all of which are equally important when creating the list. These groups of variables are economic quality, investment environment, enterprise condition, market access and infrastructure, education, health,  governance, personal freedom, safety and security, natural environment, living conditions, and social capital. All of the data is collected from different reliable sources that do large-scale research, and it is not hard to see why all of these variables are considered important for the quality of life in a country. In 2019, the countries that were placed at the top of the list were Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. The United States placed 18th on the list, and we will also explore why.

The Variables

Throughout the years, all of the variables that are taken into consideration for this list are researched through multiple large-scale surveys, and the Legatum institute picks the most reliable ones when creating the list. Some of the variables are easy to understand, while others might seem a bit abstract. Safety and security refer to how much crime in all its forms manages to destabilize the feeling of safety in the citizens of a country. Personal freedom tries to measure how much a country is doing in order to give everyone living in it their individual liberties and the most basic rights. 

The variable of governance tries to determine if the government in a specific country is doing the best job they can and if there are any corruption involved, as well as tries to identify if there are ways to check the institutions in power and keep them restrained if needed. Social capital refers to the willingness of the citizens to engage in civic activities, as well as the strength of social norms and relationships in a country.

By measuring the investment environment, we can see how safe the capital investments in a specific country are, and if they are protected. This is followed by the enterprise conditions, which measures regulations that govern all aspects of starting a business, and market access and infrastructure, that unsurprisingly, measures how well developed the infrastructure of the trading system is.

Economic quality is incredibly important because it is a variable that inspects the entire economy of a country and how well it can engage its workforce and generate profit. The next few variables do not deal with the economy, but rather the general quality of life of an individual. Living conditions naturally explore the most basic services, shelters, and various resources in a country, the health variable tries to determine the quality of healthcare and the education variable explores the quality and availability of education.

Finally, we have the variable of the natural environment, that deals with the types of physical environments that can have an immediate effect on the everyday lives of people, and how this environment can impact the future of the citizens in a country.

1. Denmark

Copenhagen City, Denmark
Copenhagen City, Denmark.

In 2019, Denmark scored high enough on all of the variables to take first place as the best country to live in. This is not surprising at all since the country has been in the first place since 2009. The areas where this country is the strongest are the living conditions and social capital. However, it scored relatively low in the natural environment variable.

Denmark is a country that continuously manages to be extremely prosperous and create a living environment where everyone can feel safe and get a chance to succeed. The country is known to be extremely inclusive and welcoming to all minorities. Social capital is rated highly here, probably due to that fact. One thing that absolutely needs to be noted about the country is the fact that education is completely free. Not only that, but you might also actually get a sizable scholarship if you decide to pursue higher education. Naturally, the healthcare system is great as well, which actually was not the case ten years ago. However, the country made great strides to improve it.

2. Norway

Bergen, Norway.
Bergen, Norway.

Coming in at the second place, we have Norway, the Scandinavian paradise, where only the weather is cold. Social capital in Norway is rated highly, which means that if you decide to move here, you should have no fear of not feeling welcome. Governance is another aspect of the country that seems to work efficiently. Just like the majority of the western world, the country is a representative democracy, and it seems like the citizens have high trust in who they pick to represent them.

Living conditions in Norway were its downside a few years back, but the country improved dramatically in this aspect. It probably has a lot to do with the improvements made in all of the other aspects, including health and education, but nowadays Norway is widely considered to be one of the happiest nations in the world. The citizens of Norway often respond to all types of crises happening in the world, which shows that they have a developed social capital, and they are aware of the importance of paying attention to the current global events. 

3. Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland.
Basel, Switzerland.

We are rounding out the top three in Switzerland, the country famous for its chocolate and cheese. It looks like the quality of food can work wonders in making people happier. Economic quality is one of the countries’ strongest sides, but where it excels at the most is safety and security. Switzerland took first place in this category. It makes sense in a way, seeing as how the country is known for taking a neutral stance throughout history. Since conflict is not in its nature, people obviously feel safer.

Other than that, it is worth noting that the country doesn’t rank high in the investment environment department. This means that the people of Switzerland might not feel that safe when making larger investments, and it is something that should possibly be regulated better. Still, with everything else the country has going for it, it does not ruin its reputation. The Alps definitely make for a nice backdrop for a living space.

18. The United States Of America

New York City Manhattan Skyline, helicopter flight view. United States
New York City Manhattan Skyline, United States.

In 2019, the United States was ranked 18th on the Legatum Prosperity Index. This is quite low for a country with this importance and magnitude. However, it is not that surprising. The country performed strongly in enterprise conditions and market access and infrastructure variables. This makes sense since by investing smartly in businesses, people can make a good living here.

However, the health variable is the one where the United States ranked extremely low, the 59th place. However, this is not surprising, because the low quality of the healthcare system in the United States has been the topic of discussion for quite some time. Healthcare is not available for most people, and medical bills are so high that people avoid visiting the doctor at all. Safety and security are other variables where the country ranks low, and it possibly has a lot to do with the constant insecurities when dealing with inner turmoil, as well as the relationship with other powerful countries.

The 50 Best Countries To Live In

2019 Rank Country
1Denmark
2Norway
3Switzerland
4Sweden
5Finland
6Netherlands
7New Zealand
8Germany
9Luxembourg
10Iceland
11United Kingdom
12Ireland
13Austria
14Canada
15Hong Kong
16Singapore
17Australia
18United States
19Japan
20Malta
21Estonia
22Belgium
23France
24Taiwan, China
25Spain
26Portugal
27Slovenia
28Czechia
29South Korea
30Italy
31Israel
32Slovakia
33Lithuania
34Cyprus
35Latvia
36Poland
37Chile
38Costa Rica
39Uruguay
40United Arab Emirates
41Malaysia
42Greece
43Qatar
44Mauritius
45Croatia
46Hungary
47Romania
48Seychelles
49Bulgaria
50Montenegro

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