Beyond the essential ideas of broad access to food and housing, to quality education and health care, to employment that will sustain us, quality of life may also include intangibles such as job security, political stability, individual freedom and environmental quality.
What social scientists do agree on is that material wealth is not the most important factor in assessing a life lived well. The results of the Quality of Life sub-ranking survey reflect that sensibility.
The 2018 Best Countries rankings, formed in partnership with global marketing communications company Y&R's brand strategy firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, are based on a study that surveyed more than 21,000 global citizens from four regions to asses perceptions of 80 countries on 75 different metrics. The Quality of Life subranking is based on an equally weighted average of scores from nine country attributes that relate to quality of life in a country: affordable, a good job market, economically stable, family friendly, income equality, politically stable, safe, well-developed public education system and well-developed public health system. The Quality of Life subranking score had a 17 percent weight in the overall Best Countries ranking.
Top 5 Winners
People consistently view a small group of nations as best providing for their citizens. For the third consecutive year, Canada ranks No. 1 overall for providing a good quality of life. Survey respondents view the North American country as No. 1 for both being politically stable and having a good job market, and No. 2 for providing a safe environment to live in and for its public education system, a perception supported by independent research. The North American country is seen as possessing the third best well-developed public health care system. In fact, Canada is rated in the top 10 in all but one of the nine attributes, affordability, where Asian countries dominate.
Seven European countries are ranked in the top 10, and 13 from the continent rank in the top 20. Denmark, Sweden and Norway immediately follow Canada, with Australia, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany also finishing in the top 10.
Countries perceived to provide a lower quality of life perform most poorly in areas concerning personal safety and economic opportunity. Iran, followed by Lebanon, Algeria and Nigeria are at the bottom of the quality of life ranking. Iran finishes last in the survey for being friendly to families.
The United States ranks No. 17 overall by survey respondents for providing a good quality of life, up one position from 2017. Its highest ranking is for its job market, where it ranks fourth, trailing on Canada, Germany and Australia. Its lowest ranking came in affordability, where survey responses placed it No. 55.