Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Newsweek ranks Finland number one country

Finland, Finland, Finland
The country where I quite want to be
Your mountains so lofty
Your treetops so tall
Finland, Finland, Finland
Finland has it all, Finland has it all
(Monty Python)

Newsweek magazine has confirmed that there's more to Finland than lofty mountains and forests. In its newly published country ranking Finland topped the list with an overall score of 89.3 (Switzerland - another country with lofty mountains and forests - came second with a score of 89).

Rather than relying on the crude measurement of gross national product (with all the perversities that arise from including activities that very frequently reduce rather than increase human well-being), Newsweek has undertaken a massive research exercise, with an advisory board including globally renowned specialists, comparing performance across such matters as healthy life expectancy, access to education, unemployment rates, family income inequality, homicide rates, economic diversification and innovation. You can see the full list of indicators here.

Success is never based on a single factor, but it is clear that those countries which invest most heavily in developing their social capital -- that is their people -- perform far better than those that invest less. Social inequality also matters. And it is no coincidence that Nordic countries perform so much better than some of their European and American counterparts. The former use their high tax revenues to invest heavily in education, infrastructure and social security.

Monty Python's memorable lampoon of Finland missed out on the crucial ingredient: despite the grumbles of some tax-payers (and the tax avoidance industry), tax is a vital ingredient of national success.


Blogger Matti said...

The debate in Finland on this has been great the last two days. First Newsweek corrected the our score on education up to 102 to get us firmly ahead of Switzerland on the average as well.

The choice of models between the Swiss and the Finns is also one of values, do you believe in staling others by hiding money in secretive accounts, or prefer in providing a knowledge-driven economy that has free health, free education, decent working hours, prudently managed universal pensions independent of private or government meddling.

10:02 am  
Blogger Spring said...


Newsweek conveniently left out a number of other factors regarding taxes in Finland and the rush of the younger Finns with wealth to get it out of Finland.

They also disregard the difficult of maintaining private property, alcoholism, and slipping and falling on your ice during winter.

It isn't a bad place to live but No. 1?


8:32 pm  

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