That may be a trick question, but I don’t think many would answer “Switzerland”. But Will Wilkinson went straight to the source for the graph at left, the OECD Factbook 2008: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. We know from experience that our Aussie and Kiwi mates are immigration-friendly. Does anyone know factually why Switzerland ranks even a bit higher than Australia?
My guess is a key driver is the falling Swiss fertility rate — which at 1.42 has dropped to almost the basement level of Italy. Absent strong immigration, Switzerland will become just a place on the map. But given a progressive immigration policy Switzerland’s low fertility is a good news story, as admission to Switzerland (or Australia or NZ or America …) is an opportunity for the immigrant to learn from the success of his neighbors, and for the Swiss et al to benefit from the entrepreneurial drive of the immigrants. A bit like Uplifting, but without the genetic modifications.
The OECD Factbook is a primary source — highly recommended. I do hope you will bookmark the powerful visualization and analysis provided by Google’s free Trendalyzer. This is Swedish economist Hans Rosling’s marvelous GapMinder work. Here are two earlier Seekerblog posts on Prof. Rosling: Gapcasts, and Gapminder & Human Development Trends.
If you are depressed because the daily “news cycle” makes you feel like the world is going totally wrong, you owe yourself some time to get perspective from the real data. For an animated example, see the Gapminder presentation “Has the world become a better place?” [you can download the Flash presentation].Google’s purchase of Rosling’s Trendalyzer has made these visualization tools invaluable aids for students — or anyone who is trying to understand complex data.
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