5th in Human Life Indicator index
Yes, that’s right: Spain is the fifth best country in the world to live in, according to the World Economic Forum’s Human Life Indicator (HLI) index.
The above-mentioned index ranks 184 nations worldwide principally on life expectancy at birth and inequalities in longevity. It was introduced by the World Economic Forum to challenge and refine the United Nations’ annual Human Development Index (HDI); which the former organisation sees as flawed and prone to inconsistency.
Roots of the HDI
The United Nations’ HDI index was created in 1990 to give policymakers and citizens a more rounded view of human development in different countries which, beforehand, was solely measured by economic growth.
As such, it takes three core components into account: economics (GDP per capita), education (average level and quality) and health (life expectancy at birth). The fact that non-economic variables were considered for the first time greatly impacted people’s notion of what it means to become “more developed”.
The HDI’s shortcomings
The World Economic Forum, whilst recognising the great utility of the HDI, sees that it has some defects. It notices that, by taking a type of average between the three variables, the index effectively compensates for fluctuations within its components.
For example, a country that has a high GDP and low life expectancy could score the same as another with a high life expectancy and low GDP. This is a very basic example, but essentially countries with inverse correlations can register the same score on the HDI scale.
By basing itself on average scores of the three components, it also fails to take into account nations whose wealth is very unevenly distributed, or regions within a country where there is perhaps a vast disparity between access to education or healthcare.
The HLI’s solution
In order to limit these complications posed by a multidimensional – or composite – index, the Human Life Indicator scale uses life expectancy (taking into account both longevity from birth and infant mortality) as the sole metric.
World Economic Forum data analysis maintains that, since life expectancy is the most reliable of the three components and they are all closely related anyway, little information is lost by eradicating the HDI index’s pillars of economy and education. This, it claims, is a fairer way to determine the best country in the world to live in.
Favourable result for Spain
The result is that a huge number of countries shift positions in the list when going from the HDI to the HLI rankings.
Given that the Spanish healthcare system is the best in Europe, its citizens live as long as anywhere else and some of its cities are among the most sustainable on the planet, the news that it is the fifth best country in the world to live in is hardly surprising.
NB: In case you were curious, Hong Kong topped the HLI index, followed by Japan, Iceland and Singapore in second, third and fourth positions respectively.