Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Israel: a surprisingly happy face

Some interesting results in the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index - "the world’s only global assessment of wealth and wellbeing".

Israel came 27th/104 - well below almost every Western European country, the US and Canada (Britain came 12th), but really quite good considering it was ranked 140th on the "Vision of humanity global peace index".

For a permanently stressed country, it scored an impressive 12th/104 in the "average life satisfaction" category. That's pretty happy, all things considered. The UK, incidentally, ranked 17.

For those who complain that Israel is somehow 'undemocratic', please note that it was ranked 17th. "Israelis have unrestricted political rights, and very high levels of civil liberties. Israel has a large number of democratic institutions and organisations, and there are many constraints on the power of the executive, ranking the country in the top 10 worldwide on this variable."

It has a strong economy (22nd overall): "inflation rates at, just over 0.5% per year, are the second lowest worldwide."

On the sad side, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and levels of trust between citizens are low; in addition, the report notes, "Israel is not very religious, with less than half of its citizens considering religion to be an important part of their daily lives, ranking the country 71st, internationally, and suggesting limited access to religious support networks." An interesting finding considering the large number of Orthodox Jewish citizens, as well as religious Muslims, in the country, indicating just how sharp the divide is between religious and secular.

But my favourite entry concerns the country's health. Israel evidently has an excellent health system:

Israel has the sixth highest proportion of doctors and nurses worldwide, and ranks in the top 20 with respect to the number of hospital beds per person. Health-adjusted life expectancy, at 71, is very high, and both the proportion of undernourished citizens and the infant mortality rate are low, at roughly 4% and four per 1,000 live births, respectively.... but just four-fifths are happy with their general level of health, ranking the country below the global average.

In other words, were the Jewish state not full of hypochondriacs who take particular delight in moaning about their health, it could have been ranked even higher....

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