Development and economic growth are topics that jumped into the limelight of world affairs some seventy years ago when Roy Harrod, an eminent economist, introduced the theory of economic growth and gave the world especially the newly independent colonial countries a recipe for leading their countries towards economic prosperity. The themes of development were largely dormant in the early years post the industrial revolution but in the nineteenth and twentieth century the out-of-the-world prosperity that was witnessed in the United States led to countries all over the world looking for ways to emulate such prosperity back home. Economic growth was now a term on everyone’s lips.
Some thirty years ago, Amartya Sen, an Indian economist suggested that development and prosperity should not be only depended upon how much a country produces basically he wanted a measure of development apart from the traditional Gross Domestic Product. This search led to the creation of the Human Development Index by the United Nations based upon the Human Development Theory of Amartya Sen himself and Mahbub-Ul-Haq of Pakistan. Today, there is a firm understanding among the world leaders and countries that development is not only about economics prosperity but also about the richness and development of human life. We enlist below for you the ten most socially & economically developed countries in the world whose rise to the top is the envy of many developing countries around the world.
1. Norway – The Most Developed Country in the World
It may not boast of the largest economy of the world but this Scandinavian neighbor of Sweden is the most developed country in the world currently going by the human development index which gave it a score of 0.955. Norway is a largely peaceful country with great standards for quality of life, education, governance and living. It people are considered to be among the happiest with virtually no poverty and low unemployment rates. The country played a pivotal role in the founding of the NATO but is yet to join the European Union. It is a universal role model for all the welfare states in terms of developing a social security system, advanced schooling system and a healthcare system.
2. Australia – The Giant of the Pacific
The island nation which in itself is a continent, Australia, is ranked very highly when it comes to quality of life, standard of living and economic strength. Part of the commonwealth of the Queen of United Kingdom, Australia has the 13th largest economy in terms nominal GDP and is ranked fifth in terms of per capita income. The Pacific Giant is ranked the second most developed country in the world according to the human development index with a score of 0.938. The country has very high numbers in terms of literacy rate, enrollment, life expectancy and economic freedom.
3. United States of America – The Greatest Democracy
The greatest democracy in the world and one of the oldest America has grown from strength to strength in its relatively small history. The country which was largely a small economy for most parts of its history grew into one of the largest economies in the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Post the Second World War, USA saw itself in the middle of a golden era in the history of Capitalism which led to it becoming the most powerful economy in the world with a GDP which stands today at $14 Trillion, miles ahead of its nearest competitor. The country currently ranks third in the world human development index with a score of 0.937 and is known for being an exemplary model of prosperity all over the world albeit with some deficiencies of its own.
4. Netherlands – The Orange Nation
The low-lying country of the European North, Netherland or Holland, is one of the happiest places on the planet and has a great history of economic and social prosperity. The score of 0.921 sees Netherlands slip one spot to the fourth in the human development index. The country which is a constitutional monarchy is home to 16.7 million people with a per capita income of $49,950 and a GDP of $837 billion. The country throughout its history has boasted high literacy rate and low unemployment rates along with a high-quality education system. It has been the founding member of some of the most powerful organizations in the world such as WTO, NATO, EU, and OECD and is considered ‘the legal capital of the world’ by virtue of hosting five international court systems.
5. Germany – The European Juggernaut
The heart of the European Union, geographically & economically speaking, Germany is a powerhouse of Europe and one of the most developed countries in the world. The country which has a score of 0.905 is ninth on the overall index of human development. Germany has seen many twists and turns in its economic fortunes over its long and illustrious history but its position of a developed country came about in the decades post the Second World War which saw the this war ravaged country embark on an unprecedented path of industrial and social development which has made it the largest economy in Europe with a GDP of $3.5 Trillion. The country of 82 million people boasts of social and economic infrastructure that is the envy of many countries, has a literacy rate of 99%, a world-beater in education and has one of the most skilled labor forces in the world.
6. New Zealand – An Archipelago of Prosperity
The discovery of Captain Cook, New Zealand is a group of island off the eastern coast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. This country of rich biodiversity and tribal history is one of the friendliest and happiest places on the planet to live on. The country ranks sixth on the human development index dropping one place from the previous index by virtue of its score of 0.919. The country has a great social and economic infrastructure which has helped it achieve high level of living standards. The country has a life expectancy rate of 80 years, per capita GDP of $35, 374 and a GDP of $157.877 Billion in nominal terms.
7. Ireland – The Celtic Tiger
The Republic of Ireland is one of the two countries which form the Irish island; the other being is bitter enemy of Northern Ireland. Ireland was largely a poor country throughout its history which was made even more so through the protectionism of the twentieth century. This protectionist policy was dismantled in the 1950s which led to a slew of reforms in the economy of country which transformed it into one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Today with a score of 0.916, Ireland ranks as the seventh most developed country in the world. The country faced a severe economic recession in 2008 but that hasn’t knocked it off its perch of being among the most developed countries in the world.
8. Sweden – The famed Scandinavian giant
With a score of 0.904, Sweden ranks tenth on the overall human development index. The Scandinavian Giant and the home of the Vikings, Sweden is largely a welfare state with deeply entrenched democratic values and a well-developed social parameters. Sweden is known all over the world for its high-standard of living, education and the health system. Its people are considered to be among the happiest in the world. With a population of 9.9 million Sweden is of the size of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh having its capital in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – Stockholm. The Swedes boast of a per capita in the range of $35, 876, GDP of $450 Billion, life expectancy of 81 years and an enviable education system.
9. Switzerland – The Home of Alps
One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Switzerland also has the tag of being one of the most highly developed countries in the world apart from being one of the richest. This tiny central European country ranks ninth on the human development index thanks to its score of 0.913 gaining two positions from the previous human development index. The country boasts of a per capita GDP of $45, 285, the most competitive economy in the world, and a life expectancy at birth of 80.4 years for men and 84 years for women.
10. Japan – The Land of the Rising Sun
The second largest economy of Asia and the third largest in the world, Japan has long been the world leader when it comes to technology and engineering. This island nation saw unprecedented levels of economic and social prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s which saw it inch very close to the top spot in terms of economic prosperity. A score of 0.912 sees Japan climb up two position to the tenth position on the overall human development index of 2013 from the previous year’s index. The country is leader when it comes to industrial power and human resource capital and has remained so in the past fifty-odd years.