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Breaking the dominance of Northern and Western European countries for top spots in the world’s most livable countries were Australia, United States, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore. The ranking was based on the most recent release of the Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Programme, according to a report on internet journal 24/7 Wall St.


According to the report, data from the Human Development Index is based on three dimensions of human progress — having a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, and having a good standard of living. According to the index, Norway is the most livable country in the world, while Niger is the least livable.


One factor that influences a country’s development is its income. The U.N. used gross national income in its calculation of the Human Development Index to reflect the standard of living in a country. In the most developed countries, gross income per capita is generally quite high. All of the world’s 10 most livable countries had among the top 30 gross national incomes per person. The top-rated country, Norway, had the world’s sixth highest gross national income per capita of $63,909.


If income levels were higher in Australia, it would likely be ranked no. 1. Australia lost out on the top spot with a Gross National Income per capita of $41,524 which is the 20th highest in the world but roughly on par with other highly developed countries. However, Australia had one of the longest life expectancy in 2013, at 82.5 years. Residents 25 and older had also spent more time in school than adults in any other country, at 12.9 years on average as of 2012.


Additionally, at 5.2% last year, the country’s unemployment rate was far lower than similarly developed countries in Europe as well as the United States. Australia’s economy has benefited tremendously from a mining boom in recent years, although the economy is currently re-balancing as iron ore prices have dropped and growth in China — a major trade partner — has slowed.


Sadly, people from countries at the other end of the spectrum, which were dominated by African nations, faced lower life-expectancy with some at just 45.6 years and lived on about $1.25 a day.

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