Norway was named the best country in the world to live for the 12th year in a row in the 2015 United Nations Human Development Index. The United States was eighth. Photo by TonelloPhotography/Shutterstock
NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- There has been no better place to live than Norway for the last 12 years, a new United Nations study has found.
The former land of the Viking tops the United Nations 2015 Human Development Index for the 12th consecutive year. The index measures life expectancy, education and standard of living.
A Norwegian's life expectancy is 81.6 years, while the country's gross national income per capita is $64,992, and average number of school years is 12.6 for an overall score of 0.944.
Australia and Switzerland were second and third with slightly higher life expectancy, but lower income per capita.
The HDI was launched in 1990 and is meant to show how expanding human choices should be the ultimate criteria for assessing development results.
"Economic growth is a means to that process, but is not an end by itself," the report stated.
"The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of [Gross National Income] per capita can end up with different human development outcomes."
Rounding out the top 10 in order were Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, followed by the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) was 14th. Israel was 18th, and Japan was 20th.
Singapore, at 11th, was the highest ranked country in Asia. Qatar (32nd) was the highest in the Arab world. Chile (42nd) was the highest in South America, and Algeria (83rd) the highest in Africa.
Russia was 50th, China was 90th, and India was ranked near the bottom at 130th. The worst ranked country (188th) was Niger.
Civil war knocked down Libya 27 places and Syria 15 places.
Some of the greatest disparity between neighbors was South Korea, ranked 17th and North Korea, which didn't even get a ranking, and the United States (8th) and Mexico, ranked 74th.
"This new global Human Development Report is an urgent call to tackle one of the world's great development challenges, providing enough decent work and livelihoods for all," Helen Clark, United Nations Development Program administrator, said at a press conference.
"The world of work is changing more rapidly than ever before," Clark said. "The question is what are the best policy responses to ensure that human development benefits from that change?"