Cyprus | Posted:

CYPRUS beat out Britain and France, coming in 23rd place in a list of 80 countries ranked according to whether they were a good place for a child to be born in 2013.

The ‘where-to-be-born ‘index  was first compiled a quarter of  a century ago by the Economist Intelligence Unit as a light-hearted project but it says it has now earnestly calculated where would be best to be born in 2013.

The quality-of-life index links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys - how happy people say they are -to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries.

Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts - things like crime and trust in public institutions matter too, it says. In all, the index takes 11 indicators into account. Some are fixed, such as geography; others change only very slowly over time (demography, social and cultural characteristics).

According to the index the top five countries respectively are Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark with points ranging from 8.01 to 8.22. Cyprus reached joint 23rd with Chile with 7.10 points. Japan, France and Britain followed with 7.08, 7.04 and 7.01.

The US, which topped the first index in 1988 has dropped to 16th with 7.38 points, Greece was in 34th place with 6.65 and Turkey 51 with 5.95 points.

Bottom of the list respectively were Nigeria with 4.74 points, Kenya with 4.91, Ukraine with 4.98 and Bangladesh with 5.07.

The Economist said that during its calculations a forward-looking element also comes into play and that it had used  The Economist Intelligence Unit’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood.

“Despite the global economic crisis, times have in certain respects never been so good. Output growth rates have been declining across the world, but income levels are at or near historic highs,” The Economist said. “Life expectancy continues to increase steadily and political freedoms have spread across the globe. In other ways, however, the crisis has left a deep imprint—in the eurozone, but also elsewhere—particularly on unemployment and personal security. In doing so, it has eroded both family and community life.”

It said that small economies dominated the index’s top ten. Half of these were European, but only one, the Netherlands, was from the eurozone. “The Nordic countries shine, whereas the crisis-ridden south of Europe (Greece, Portugal and Spain) lags behind despite the advantage of a favourable climate,” it said.

“America, where babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation, languishes back in 16th place. Despite their economic dynamism, none of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) scores impressively. Nigeria is the worst place for a baby to enter the world in 2013, said The Economist.

“Quibblers will, of course, find more holes in all this than there are in a chunk of Swiss cheese. America was helped to the top spot back in 1988 by the inclusion in the ranking of a “philistine factor” (for cultural poverty) and a “yawn index” (the degree to which a country might, despite all its virtues, be irredeemably boring). Switzerland scored terribly on both counts.”

It concluded: “In the film “The Third Man”, Orson Welles’s character, the rogue Harry Lime, famously says that Italy for 30 years had war, terror and murder under the Borgias but in that time produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance; Switzerland had 500 years of peace and democracy—and produced the cuckoo clock”.