The Boston Consulting Group has released its annual Sustainable Economic Development Assessment - SEDA - which measures the wellbeing of a country’s citizens as compared to its total wealth.
“Leaders around the world increasingly recognize that GDP alone cannot give a full picture of a country’s performance,” the report reads. “The well-being of citizens is an even more important measure.”
The report ranks GDP against a number of metrics, including income, economic stability, employment, health, education, infrastructure, income inequality, gender equality, personal security, strength of legal systems and the health of the environment.
The chart below presents the report’s key findings. Australia ranks highly, but it’s not in the top ten countries.
All top ten countries in wellbeing were in Western Europe, with Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway leading the pack.
“Norway holds the top slot, as it has since we launched SEDA,” the authors noted.
The report also found Australia was at risk of falling behind, and failing to convert economic growth into welbeing at a consistent rate.
As for progress, African and Asian nations were doing well, while Latin American countries were lagging behind.
“Number one in recent progress is Ethiopia, whose performance is emblematic of gains in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole,” the report said.
Fifteen sub-Saharan African countries were in the top quarter of countries when it came to recent progress.
“Vietnam, Rwanda, Albania and Ethiopia are among the best at turning wealth into wellbeing,” the report said. Croatia was the best country at converting economic growth into wellbeing, joined by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
Oil-rich countries were notable for being below average at converting wealth and growth into wellbeing.
The report said that infrastructure, especially electricity and internet access, was an important driver of well-being. Financial inclusion – as measured by the rates of individuals having bank accounts – was also closely related to overall wellbeing.
The two were inter-linked, the report said, with reliable electricity and internet connectivity allowing for the expansion of electronic payment systems. Bank accounts were particularly important for poverty reduction, gender equality and economic growth, the report said.