Includes data from multiple indexes indicating relative standing of the 12 democracies reported by internationalcomparisons.org.

Overview

COLOR CODING
GreenRanked first for statistic
RedRanked last for statistic
 Human Development IndexBetter Life IndexWorld Happiness Report RankingSocial Progress IndexEnvironmental Performance IndexHappy Planet IndexLegatum Prosperity Index
Australia0.9387.31288.0274.921.217
Canada0.9227.41188.8171.023.914
Denmark0.9307.6290.0982.532.71
France0.8916.52387.7980.030.423
Germany0.9397.01788.8477.229.88
Italy0.8836.03085.6971.028.130
Japan0.9155.96288.3475.128.319
Netherlands0.9347.4688.3175.335.36
Norway0.9547.6390.9577.736.82
Sweden0.9377.3789.4578.728.04
United Kingdom0.9206.81387.9881.331.911
United States0.9206.91883.6269.320.718

SOURCES:

Human Development Index 2018

The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with different human development outcomes. These contrasts can stimulate debate about government policy priorities.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions.

Better Life Index

There is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics – This Index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life.

World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and digs more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness.

Social Progress Index

The Social Progress Index is a new way to define the success of our societies. It is a comprehensive measure of real quality of life, independent of economic indicators. The Social Progress Index is designed to complement, rather than replace, economic measures such as GDP.

Environmental Performance Index

The 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. Using 32 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the EPI ranks 180 countries on environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets. The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance and provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future.

Happy Planet Index

“New Economics Foundation (NEF) is the UK’s leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice. Our aim is to transform the economy so that it works for people and the planet.”

Legatum Prosperity Index, 2019

“The Legatum Institute is a London-based think-tank with a global vision: to see all people lifted out of poverty. Our mission is to create the pathways from poverty to prosperity, by fostering Open Economies, Inclusive Societies and Empowered People.”

Notes

The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why.

New York Times, Jul 2nd, 2020, David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez
Average income has increased world-wide. However, for residents of the US, these income gains have been seen mostly by the affluent, while middle-and lower-income workers have seen their share reduced. The US ranks lower than other advanced nations in membership in labor unions, which, for years, supported workers in the US. Research shows that labor union members are paid more, on average, than non-members in similar, non-union jobs.

There are many other factors contributing to the failure of the US to keep up with other advanced democracies, including health care; taxes; incarceration rates; lower minimum wage; and higher prices for everyday items like cell phones.

Building a Movement for Happiness

Truthout, May 15th, 2014, John de Graaf
Argues for using happiness and well-being as measures of progress and success. “Gallup…assess the happiness of 150 countries in the world each year. Consistently, northern European nations rank on top, with Denmark in the number one spot year after year. The United States, which ranked 11th in 2007, has dropped to 17th place since the great economic meltdown. Several factors in particular characterize the world’s happiest countries – a relatively small gap between rich and poor; excellent work-life balance; urban design favoring community over cars; high degrees of interpersonal trust; a strong social safety net, and, contrary to popularly-held US ideas, the highest tax rates in the world.”

U.S. work-life balance ranks poorly on Better Life Index

SFGate, Feb 26th, 2014, Kathryn Roethel
“The good news is poor work-life balance in the United States doesn’t seem to translate into poor quality of life overall. Americans were in the top half of the pack in the “life satisfaction” ranking, and the U.S. was No. 1 in after-tax household income.”

World Wildlife Fund: Living Planet Report 2010

Jan 1st, 2010, WWF International
World Wildlife Fund in a publication notes that there must be a balance between meeting today’s needs and stewardship for better sustainability. In prescribes that countries aim for a Human Development Index score (today’s needs) of at least .800 and an ecological footprint (sustainability) of less than 1.8 global hectares per person. Peru was the only country to fit in the sustainability box at the time of the WWF study.

A Comparison of the U.S. to the Other Rich Nations

Michael Wolff & Company, Inc., Wolff et al.
Where We Stand, Bantam Books, 1992. Interesting, comprehensive, and now out-of-date. They used indicators for productivity, salaries, equitable wealth distribution, luxury-goods consumption, trading strength, poverty, personal and national indebtedness, inflation control, business strength and credit-worthiness.

OECD Better Life Index

In 2013, OECD published the original Better Life Index, with these rankings: Australia-1, Sweden-2, Canada-3, Norway-4, United States-6, Denmark-7, Netherlands-8, United Kingdom-10, Germany-17, France-18, Japan-21, Italy-23. The current Better Life Index is a table with 18 columns of social and economic indicators, allowing users to create their own index. “Life Satisfaction” is one of the indicators, but it is a single indicator, not a combination of multiple indicators.