Australia won the top position, due to the overall strength of its economy, in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland also made it to the top five. The survey ranked more than 30 countries on criteria such as income levels, health, safety and housing.
“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD said on its website.
More than 73% of Australia’s 23 million people aged 15 to 64 hold a paid job, which is above the OECD average.
Life expectancy at birth is also higher, at almost 82 years.
Australia’s economy has posted more than two decades of straight growth due to demand for its natural resources.
The nation also managed to sidestep the worst of the financial crisis and was the only major developed nation to avoid the global recession in 2009.
The country’s economic strength has been reflected in the Australian dollar, which is currently trading close to 30 year highs.
However, the government is starting to see challenges to growth as the mining boom tapers off, including rising unemployment.
As a result, Australia’s Labour government is now looking to move the economy away from its dependence on mining towards sectors such as construction and manufacturing. Another challenge they face is a widening income gap. According to the OECD, the top 20% of Australia’s population earn six times more than the bottom 20%.
[Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk May 28, 2013]