U.N.: Norway best in human development
- Several countries recorded improvements in human development, but inequities remain between rich and poor nations, the U.N. Human Development Index showed.
The annual Human Development Index -- a combination of life expectancy, literacy, school enrollment and gross domestic product per capita measures -- was calculated for 182 countries and territories and released Monday as part of the annual Human Development Report, the United Nations said in a release.
"Many countries have experienced setbacks over recent decades, in the face of economic downturns, conflict-related crises and the HIV and AIDS epidemic," lead author Jeni Klugman said. "And this was even before the impact of the current global financial crisis was felt."
Norway, Australia and Iceland were the top-ranked countries on the index, which is based on data gathered in 2007, the most recent year full statistics are available for, the United Nations said. Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan round out the Top 10.
Across the index, five countries rose by three or more places -- France, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and China -- largely because of improvements in life expectancy and incomes, the report indicated. Luxembourg, Malta, Ecuador, Lebanon, Belize, Tonga and Jamaica fell by three or more places.
At the bottom were Niger, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, Klugman said.
Demonstrating the difference between the top and bottom countries, Klugman said a Norwegian child can expect to live 30 years longer and earn an average of $85 for every $1 earned by the person in Niger.