Ireland 12th best place to live in broad global index

Social Progress Index: Republic scores well on needs such as health, education, equality

Ireland is the 12th best place in the world to live when it comes to basic human needs such as health, education and equality, according to an expansive global index of 133 countries published this morning.

While the new index shows little movement for the Republic compared with last year’s figures, it appears its position is considerably compromised by high rates of obesity and suicide, as well as a poor water infrastructure and difficulties in accessing affordable housing.

For its rankings, the Social Progress Index, compiled in conjunction with Deloitte, eschews economic indicators in favour of things it determines matter the most to people, irrespective of personal wealth or the wealth of their country.

The index uses 12 categories, including quality of water and shelter, access to healthcare and education and the ability people in the countries surveyed have to improve their lives through equality and personal rights.


Very high ranking

The Republic's position just outside the top 10 is in line with last year's ranking and puts the State in the "very high" tier of the EU, alongside the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and the UK.

When compared with 33 other OECD countries, the Republic also ranked 12th.

The index suggests the State performed particularly well in the opportunity section, where it is ranked fifth, a position driven by a strong performance in the areas of tolerance and inclusion and access to advanced education.

Tolerance and inclusion

Ireland is ranked third when it comes to tolerance and inclusion, behind Iceland in first place and Luxembourg. On advanced education, the Republic is in fourth place, behind world leaders Canada. The US and UK occupy the other medal places in that section.

Personal rights, and personal freedoms and choice, are the other two subsets of the opportunity category - and in those the State does not fare quite so well. The Republic is ranked 22nd on personal rights and 14th in the personal freedoms and choice category.

On indicators related to basic human needs and the foundations of wellbeing, Ireland ranked 17th. It appears the State has been dragged down in this key area by poor quality broadband, water services and affordable housing.

The index ranks the Republic 29th on the affordable housing scale, while it scarcely performs much better when it comes to internet access, where Ireland is place in 23rd position. The news is even worse when it comes to water and sanitation, with Ireland ranked 41st.

The Republic had an even poorer outcome in the key areas of health and wellness. It is ranked 108th of the 133 countries when it comes to obesity and 69th when suicide rates are factored in.

The State does not perform particularly well when it comes to environmental issues, and ranks 41st globally on biodiversity.

Research by Deloitte has shown that where a country performs well on the index, it tends also to perform well on attracting foreign direct investment.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast