General performance: Multi-index comparisons

Color Coding Key
GREEN Ranked 1st for statistic
RED Ranked last for statistic

The General Performance page has indexes that include several different areas of evaluation and necessarily reflect value judgements in which indexes are chosen and how they are weighted in relation to each other. As a result, a country high on one general index might low on another.

  Human Development Index Better Life Index World Happiness Report Social Progress Index Environmental Performance Index Happy Planet Index Legatum Prosperity Index
Australia 0.938 1 7.313 86.10 82.4 42.0 7
Canada 0.913 3 7.404 86.95 73.14 43.6 3
Denmark 0.923 7 7.526 86.55 76.92 36.6 6
France 0.888 18 6.478 81.11 71.05 46.5 20
Germany 0.916 17 6.994 84.61 80.47 47.2 14
Italy 0.873 23 5.977 76.93 74.36 46.4 32
Japan 0.891 21 5.921 84.21 72.35 47.5 21
Netherlands 0.922 8 7.339 87.37 77.75 43.1 9
Norway 0.944 4 7.498 87.12 78.04 51.4 1
Sweden 0.907 2 7.291 87.08 78.09 46.2 4
United Kingdom 0.907 10 6.725 84.56 77.35 47.9 16
United States 0.915 6 7.104 82.77 67.52 37.3 11


View HDRView Graphical Data

UN Development Programme, Human Development Report 2015 (web version). The Human Development Index (HDI) is based on average achievements of a country in three basic enhancements of human abilities: a long and healthy life; access to knowledge; and a decent standard of living. This year, the UN has also included another category to the dimensions of human development called "creating conditions for human development" which has four other important dimensions for human development. These aspects are as follows: participation in political and community life; environmental sustainability; human security and rights; and gender equality. For previous HDR reports, check here.

Visit Better Life Index pageView Graphical Data

Better Life Index 2013 ranks. Based on the following indices: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. Ranks are given with all indices given equal weight. No overall scores are reported by the OECD. Visitors may assign weights according to personal discretion on the OECD Better Life Index website.

View UN development reportView Graphical Data

World Happiness Report 2016 Update emphasizes personal well-being as the standard by which policy-making should be shaped. As in previous reports, this report uses six categories to evaluate well-being:

  • Healthy years of life expectancy
  • Trust, as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business
  • GDP per capita
  • Perceived freedom to make life choices
  • Social support, as measured by someone to count on in times of trouble
  • Generosity, as measured by recent donations

The authors note that major crises can alter life evaluations. "There is evidence that a crisis imposed on a weak institutional structure can further damage the quality of the supporting social fabric if the crisis triggers blame and strife rather than co-operation and repair. On the other hand, economic crises and natural disasters can, if the underlying institutions are of sufficient quality, lead to improvements to the social fabric. These improvements not only ensure better responses to the crisis, but also have substantial additional happiness returns, since people place real value to feeling that they belong to a caring and effective community." Happiness is a vague term with a connotation of an emotional or momentary feeling, and International Comparisons would like to see more explanation for the disparities in rankings among many of the countries in the report.

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In it's second edition, the Social Progress Index (SPI) 2014 is distinguished from the other indexes here in that it intentionally does not include a single economic indicator focusing exclusively on socian and environmental factors. Also unique and complementary to the exclusion of economic features is that the SPI features exlcusively outcomes, not inputs (e.g. health performance, not health expenditures). The Index includes three dimensions: basic human needs, foundation of well-being, and opportunity.

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Environmental Performance Index scores for 2014. Based on the following indices (with indicators in parenthesis): environmental health (health impacts, air quality, and water and sanitation) and ecosystem vitality (water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat, and climate and energy).

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Happy Planet Index scores for 2012. Based on well-being score multiplied by life expectancy score and then divided by ecological footprint (an indicator from the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Index).

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Legatum Prosperity Index scores for 2013. Based on the following indices: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital. Ranks are given with all indices given equal weight. Visitors may assign weights according to personal discretion on the Legatum Prosperity Index website.


"Building a Movement for Happiness," John de Graaf

May 15, 2014. Argues for using happiness and well-being as measures of progress and success. "Gallup...assess the happiness of 150 countries in the world each year. Consistently, northern European nations rank on top, with Denmark in the number one spot year after year. The United States, which ranked 11th in 2007, has dropped to 17th place since the great economic meltdown. Several factors in particular characterize the world's happiest countries - a relatively small gap between rich and poor; excellent work-life balance; urban design favoring community over cars; high degrees of interpersonal trust; a strong social safety net, and, contrary to popularly-held US ideas, the highest tax rates in the world."

World Wildlife Fund: Sustainability Box

World Wildlife Fund in a publication notes that there must be a balance between meeting today's needs and stewardship for better sustainability. In prescribes that countries aim for a Human Development Index score (today's needs) of at least .800 and an ecological footprint (sustainability) of less than 1.8 global hectares per person. Peru was the only country to fit in the sustainability box at the time of the WWF study.

"U.S. Work-Life balance ranks poorly on Better Life Index," Kathryn Roethel

February 26, 2014, San Francisco Chronicle. "The good news is poor work-life balance in the United States doesn't seem to translate into poor quality of life overall. Americans were in the top half of the pack in the "life satisfaction" ranking, and the U.S. was No. 1 in after-tax household income."

Wolff Index

Wolff et al., Where We Stand, Bantam Books, 1992. Interesting, comprehensive, and now out-of-date. They used indicators for productivity, salaries, equitable wealth distribution, luxury-goods consumption, trading strength, poverty, personal and national indebtedness, inflation control, business strength and credit-worthiness.