It seems smaller countries are faring better than larger nations in terms of global standards of living, as new data from the Global Wellness Index reflects that healthier, happier and more successful people are choosing to move away from big countries.
The Global Wellness Index, which is published by an investment firm called LetterOne, ranked Canada as the top country out of the 151 countries around the world that were evaluated. South Africa, however, came in dead last, achieving the lowest wellness scores for its high rates of depression, smoking and alcohol consumption, and extremely low scores in the happiness and exercise categories.
The Global Wellness Index focuses on ten key metrics: blood pressure, blood glucose, obesity, depression, happiness, alcohol use, tobacco use, exercise, healthy life expectancy and government spending on healthcare.
“The old concerns about growth – that it does not include every country, or every person in growing countries – are ever present,” Richard Davies, an economist who compiled the Global Wellness Index, was reported to have said to BusinessTech.
Canada scored so well on the index because of its excellent scores for government healthcare spending, life expectancy and blood pressure. The country also scores highly for its happiness levels.
By comparison, South Africa – which was once a beacon of economic growth – had a high score for its prevalence of diabetes.
Several big countries are struggling to catch up to the positive scores of smaller, richer countries. Some of these countries includes, Oman, Iceland, Maldives, Netherlands and Singapore.
The UK also ranked poorly, as it has high rates of obesity and a lack of inactivity.
Bigger countries, like Japan, France and Germany also failed to make it into the top 25, as all four of them score highly for high blood pressure.
Middle Eastern countries ranked relatively high due to good scores in the alcohol category.
The data was compiled from standard sources including the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory and the United Nations, as well as the World Happiness Report and public health data.
“While rich countries tend to lead, many emerging economies score more highly than some advanced nations. This is down to huge increases in life expectancy in these countries in recent years,” Davies said. “The low scores for countries like South Africa—an economy lauded for its growth rate in the 2000s—shows that simply ranking an economy based on traditional economic metrics like GDP alone can miss important parts of the story when it comes to the well-being of a nation.”