UN index ranks Israel as one of world's most developed countries

Using the UN's index, Israel ranks 18 out of a 188 countries in human development, earning the classification of one of 49 countries with "Very High Human Development."

December 16, 2015 17:25
3 minute read.
Couple on the beach

Couple on the beach in Herzliya. (photo credit: NORA MIHAYLOVA)


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Despite it all, Israel ain’t that bad a place to live.

That, at least, is the conclusion one can reach by reading the most recent UN Human Development Index released this week which folds income, life expectancy and education into a score for development.

This index has been following development around the world for the last 25 years.

Using the UN’s index, Israel ranks 18 out of a 188 countries in human development, earning the classification of one of 49 countries with “Very High Human Development.” In this unique index, which ranks countries into four different tiers, Israel scores 0.894, which is well above the 0.867 index for EU countries, and also above the 0.882 index for OECD countries.

Norway leads the list, with the US ranked 8th, and the UK tied with Sweden at 14. France is behind Israel at 22; Spain, 26; and Italy ranked 27th. Eritrea, the Central African Republic, and Niger are the three least developed countries.

Of the Arab countries, Qatar is the highest ranked at 32. Israel well outstrips all its neighbors, with Saudi Arabia ranked 36; Lebanon, 67; Jordan, 80; Egypt, 108; and war-torn Syria at 134.

Israel’s index number soared over the last 25 years ago. Based on its 1990 score, it would have only placed 57th on the current list.

When adjusted for inequality in the parameters measured across the population, Israel moves down nine spots, to 27th place. The US, by comparison, would drop 20 places, from eighth to 28th.

Israel remains at 18th place regarding gender equality. A particularly interesting statistic in that index is that Israel has the second lowest rate of maternal mortality in the world, with only 2 deaths for every 100,000 births. Belarus leads the world with only 1 death per 100,000 births. In the US, this figure is 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.

According to these figures, Israel has the highest fertility rate of any country in the “Very High Human Development” category, with 2.9 births per woman. For developed countries, the replacement fertility rate is considered to be 2.1 children per woman. According to the UN Index, not one of the 28 EU countries, nor the US with 2 births per woman, reach replacement rate.

Of Israel’s neighbors, Saudi Arabia’s birth rate is 2.7, Lebanon 1.5, Jordan 3.3, Egypt 2.8, and Syria 3.

Regarding homicides, defined in the report as the number of unlawful deaths purposefully inflicted by one person on another, Israel – from 2008 to 2012 – had 1.8 homicides per 100,000 people. This was considerably less than the US (4.7 per 100,000), but more than most EU countries. In the UK and France, the rate was 1 per 100,000, and in Italy it was .9. In Russia the number reached 9.2, while in Venezuela it soared to 53.7, and in Honduras climbed to 90.4.

At 9.8 male suicides per 100,000 people, Israel’s suicide rate is relatively low among developed countries, compared to 19.4 in the US, 16.1 in Australia, and 41.7 in Iceland. Among the 49 countries in the top ties of the development index, Israel’s suicide rate is the ninth lowest for men, and – at 2.2 suicides per 100,000 females – the eighth lowest for women.

And, finally, with regard to overall life satisfaction, only the happy residents of Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland registered more satisfaction with their lives, on a scale of 0-10, than the constantly complaining Israelis. The index for those countries was 7.5, compared to 7.4 for Israel, tied with Norway and Finland. In the US that index was 7.2, compared to 7.3 for Canada, 6.8 for the UK, and 6.5 in France.

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