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The U.S. Has a Winning GDP but Falls Behind in Quality of Life Ranking

A new report shows that money isn’t the only thing to judge a country by.
Apr 10, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

People living in the country with the highest gross domestic product aren’t always the best off in the world. That’s the main takeaway from the 2015 Social Progress Index, an annual report that examines access to education, technology, health care, personal freedom, and other basic human rights of people living in 133 countries around the world. The index’s researchers also analyzed partial data from another 28 nations, which means the index breaks down how well (or not well) 99 percent of the world’s population is doing.

America’s economy may be recovering from the Great Recession—and access to education and freedom of speech are bright spots—but the United States doesn’t rank No. 1 overall. Rather, the top honor goes to Norway. Thanks to the interactive infographic below, you can explore what’s working so well in the Nordic nation and all the other countries that made the top 10. (Nope, the U.S. isn’t even one of them.)

The interactive map dives into the index’s three main categories: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. If you hover over the map, the rankings of each nation pop up. To change the area of focus, just click on the color-coded categories on the side. Clicking on a specific country also lets users see more detail about it.

No, the United States isn’t in last place—that would be the Central African Republic—but go ahead and click on the map to learn why the land of the free and the home of the brave still has plenty of work to do.