By GEETHA PILLAI
Australia is the world’s happiest nation, ahead of Norway and the United States, according to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In its annual Better Life Index, the Paris-based group ranked Australia as top among industrialised nations based on criteria such as jobs, income and health.
The OECD survey rated its 34 member countries on categories such as housing, jobs, education, health, environment and work-life balance, giving equal weight to all 11 categories. Though no nation came first in all categories, it is the cumulative ranking that catapulted Australia to first position. Norway and the US are second and third respectively.
“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD report said.
Its unemployment rate is below 5 percent, mainly because of an investment boom in the mining sector. According to the survey, over 72 percent of people in the age group 15 to 64 have a paid job, exceeding the OECD average of 66 percent.
Australia’s unemployment rate in April stood at 4.9 percent, while it was a whopping 10.9 percent in the eurozone and 8.1 percent in the US.
There is also considerable increase in life expectancy, which is almost 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average.
Australia is the single industrialised nation which did not fall prey to the 2009 economic crisis that gripped the world.
However, the Australian dollar is reeling under pressure as the strong currency makes its exports uncompetitive. In addition to affecting the local economy, the situation also affects manufacturing and tourism.
But the rising cost of living is not putting off immigrants. Australia’s high standard of living is serving as a magnet to people across the world. Australia plans return to a budget surplus in the coming fiscal year, which is begins on 1 July, and expects its net debt to be just below 10 percent of GDP.