Vexen Crabtree 2015


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Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

What is the Best Country?

All countries are good at some things, bad at others. It is impossible to make wide comparisons between countries in any meaningful way. It's like asking "Is Pizza or Pasta best?" There is no correct answer because the question is too simplistic.


If you WERE comparing countries, what factors would you take into account? I AM doing such an ill-conceived comparison... the issues I've raised in order to arrive at results so far, are:

* Acievement of Women's Right to Vote on an Equal Basis with Men (Source: Lisa Tuttle 'Encyclopedia of Feminism' 1986)
* Life expectancy (Sources: Anthony Giddens "Sociology" 4th edition, & CIA World Factbook 2004)
* Quality of Life (Source: The Economist's "World in 2005" publication)
* Most Competitive Economy (Source: Annual World Economic Forum)
* Gay Rights (Sources:, Stonewall, etc)
* Obesity (Sources: OECD Health Data 2004, 3rd edition and International Obesity Task Force", EU Platform Briefing Paper)

Factors that I'm DIScounting are: Natural resources, country size, population size, etc.

The five best countries so far are... three main ones plus two secondary ones... Sweden, Finland, Norway, Australia and Switzerland. Anyone care to suggest further countries or heuristics?


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Finland tends to rank highly

... as it does in many topics, you're right! But these topics include good and bad! The country in Europe with most violent crime and the most expensive country!

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Women's Emancipation:
1893 New Zealand
1902 Australia
1906 Finland
1913 Norway
1916 Denmark, Iceland
Not bad, all 6 countries can rightly boast about that one for at least a century, I think!

"Global Competitiveness Report" by the World Economic Forum, Country Rankings 2004-2005
1. Finland
2. USA
3. Sweden
4. Taiwan
5. Denmark
6. Norway
7. Singapore
8. Switzerland

Whether: Well whatever you're used to is normal, so I can't use weather comparisons.

Literacy! *That's* what I need stats on! But *scratches head*, how do I take into account immigration? If a country, for the good of humanity takes in lots of refugees from an illiterate country, it should score high for doing that... but taking into account illiteracy without taking immigration into account is unfair. Stats are never simple, least of all demographics and politics! Hi ho, hi ho...

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I don't think anything makes up for spending time in the country. Crime statistics, natural environments—you can tell a lot from these things, but they aren't everything. For example, I love France now; I know I could happily live the rest of my life here. Scandinavia looks like the perfect living environment, and in many ways it is, but in my experience it's peaceful, well-ordered and socially just a little bit boring.

And of course, different parts of the same country can be much more different than the average of two different countries.

Nothing makes up for living there, it's true. I could ask people... but I don't like limited, anecdotal evidence... I'd (being anal as I am) have to start sampling properly in order to get data based on living in the country. Luckily, lots of other people have done that already... one factor I've used is the Quality of Life report via The Economist, and that actually took into account polls on such questions as "Are you happy..." etc, and comparing results by country.

Scandanavia may look beautiful, and may be boring... but both things do depend on the nature-scape and lifestyle you're used to and looking for. Very hard to compare morally or, as to be used as an example for others to follow. I'm looking for things where other people will get inspired to improve themselves by following the example of these countries. For example I highlight Sweden's exemplary recycling record; but I can't promote it's beauty because it's very difficult to do it objectively and more, it's not something that is readily made manifest by others in their own country! (Can the UK ever, through effort, produce the beautiful landscape of Scandanavia? A comparison would be unfair...)

I'm not sure what single stat would take it into account, but concern for the environment (and actually doin something about it) should be in the rankings, as imo it shows that a country's taking a slightly more long term view of thing, and willing to make 'sacrifices' for that kind of thing.

Having a quick glance at the contires you've already got, I know Scandanavia at least has a good rep in this area, and it wouldn't suprise me if Oz and Switzerland did too.

Out of curiosity, how badly does the UK do in all this? *g*

I want to include that, and make it a weighted one too because it's very important. But there are only specific stats available. Stats for CO2 emissions on roads, in industry, etc. Stats for energy usage at home. But as you mention, there doesn't seem to be a simple stat that encompasses it all. I know!! Rank them in the chronological order that they ratified Kyoto Protocol!

And I might add petrol tax too, or at least have a look to see what the variation looks like.

Yeah Scandanavia and Switzerland both are good at environmental stuff. If was this, primarily, that make me look at those countries for being "bests", although they've topped many other lists too.

UK... is present on some of the top sections. Occassionally we do badly. Not really a contendor though.

I find it odd you're excluding some of what to me are pretty important metrics. I'd definitely want to include average population density (because I'm somewhat of a misanthrope and don't want to live anywhere too crowded); as an unashamed petrolhead I'd also include motorway speed-limit, fuel-tax rates and length of decent road per 100Km. of land-area.

Another worthwhile couple of metrics to me would be the percentage of population owning their own homes/businesses.

Suicide-rate per 100,000 of the population might also be worth looking at.

[My general feeling is that should I be forced to exit the UK I'd probably feel most at-home were I to take up residence in the USA or Australia.]

Population density isn't an issue... it's not the populations' own fault how big/small the country is, no personal effort on their part can change that situation, and no matter how much I proclaim that a country is "good" or "best" because of it's population density, no other country can use it as an example to follow suit. In short, it's an unfair metric and not one that improves the world by highlighting it. What people find crowded is down to what they're used to, it's not possible to compare and decide on a best density in order to rank countries.

I do want to include petrol tax, ranked in order of petrol tax. In my mind, whichever countries are taxing petrol most are doing what is best for the world.

There are stats for motorway densities, I recall Finland has the lowest in Europe. But I can't decide if that implies more efficient alternative transport (which would be good), less usage of roads (which would be good), or, failure of to developed a motorway network (which would be bad). So it's not possible to make a ranking without an in-depth study of road usage & alternatives per country.

There's no way to "rank" speed limits, because there's no "obvious" "best" speed limit off which to base a relative index.

% owning homes would be the UK, most of all, we're a nation of homeowners. But that's a peculurality of the way our society its, most countries do not have a "thing" for owning homes, that heuristic is too culturally tied up, it's not really a measure of anything and I wouldn't know whether it was better for the world if people owned or rented.

I've considered suicide rate but I don't really know what it says about a country if it has a high or low suicide rate. It seems complicated and I need to look into it.

Since posting yesterday I've added: Asylum Seeker Acceptance Rates

Isn't Canada meant to be one of the best places to live, or something like that?


The last major quality of life survey, thanks to The Economist, put Ireland firmly in the lead as the "best place to live", followed by Switzerland and Norway.

Number of McDonalds. ;)

Hmm, how about something that takes into account a country's creativity? Obviously it's difficult to measure, I don't think anything like the government-allocated arts budget would be useful.. number of recognised artists and bands? I dunno.. I'd also say something about nightlife, or at least entertainment in general, but again, that's not very comparable.

You seem to be looking for 'good example' type things, so your petrol tax idea seems good.. or rather, how about investment in renewable sources of energy compared to GDP?

I like comparisons like this (although obviously they're always biased in some way or other). It shows what people are looking for, and what they're really getting...

As for countries...

.. here's another vote for Iceland.

Crime rate is a possibility, though depends on what you percieve as a crime... gun crime and/or hate crime rate, maybe?

Something regarding the amount of votes in the last election that went to far right parties?

Agree with all except possibly:

Obesity (Sources: OECD Health Data 2004, 3rd edition and International Obesity Task Force", EU Platform Briefing Paper)

Not sure about this. Obesity in *some* cases is a personal choice, and it could be argued that greater incidence of obesity indicates greater economic worth.

I would add to that one very important rating you have missed out:

Freedom House Rating (

Since 1972, Freedom House has published an annual assessment of the state of freedom in all countries (and select territories), now known as Freedom in the World. Individual countries are evaluated based on a checklist of questions on political rights and civil liberties that are derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each country is assigned a rating for political rights and a rating for civil liberties based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest degree of freedom present and seven the lowest level of freedom. The combined average of each country’s political rights and civil liberties ratings determines an overall status of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free.

and GDP or GNP, of course.

In 90% of cases it's personal choice. Human beings, naturally, are not obese. Genetic components are not the main factor - a hundred years ago, we did not have an obesity epidemic in the West, now we do. Genetic influences cannot have increased the incidence of natural obesity by that much over only a few generations, the increase has been massive, not gradual. Also, we *know* it's personal choice from studying the diets and habits of obese people. There are many, many rich people in many rich countries (take Switzerland & Finland for example, both very rich with some of the highest GNP per head, yet both very fit countries).

I like the Freedom House idea. Unfortunately, every country that has been appearing on my lists has scored a "1", with political and civil freedom, meaning that it's useless for differentiating.

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