By Hugh Finlay
BBC reports: Quantifying the effectiveness of the policies of a country has been achieved by using indexes such as those of the World Justice Project. These indexes measure how effective the law system is, how much their government is trusted, and the social progress of the people. Countries’ performance in these 3 categories is measured based on statistics from these countries.
Certain countries come out on top.
Like the other Nordic countries, Denmark ranks high in every index, but Denmark's performance is higher than its neighbors, and is far head of the rest of the world, with very high scores in the ‘Basic Human Needs’ ranking of the Social Progress Index. This index praises Denmark for supplying the medical and nutritional needs of the citizens, and providing access to communication and knowledge.
These benefits are available to anyone living in the country. “The general health and social system is well-developed and accessible to anyone living in Denmark, and as a student you can get financial assistance and free language classes,” explained Anne Steinbach from Germany, who spent 6 months in Aarhus, Denmark’s second biggest city.
In Denmark people are more informal with each other. As Anne Steinbach says “When Danes are ill and they cannot go to university or to work, it's fine to simply call and let the employer know. In Germany, however, employees and students need to get an official certificate from the doctor. Both countries are structured when it comes to policy and governance, but Germans like everything to be on paper, in order and certified, whereas Danes treat each other more like friends in almost every situation.”
In Denmark, taxes are the highest in the European Union, but the benefits to the population are also high, and residents are welcoming and friendly.
Says Anne Steinbach “Danes are all about hygge (coziness among friends). Having a movie night or a dinner night and inviting Danish friends over is a perfect way of blending into the Danish culture. Danes love to talk, to mingle and to simply sit together, enjoy the candlelight, good food and interesting talks.”
New Zealand and Australia are almost on the same level in the index scores, but New Zealand is a bit better for political stability, citizen’s rights, and the absence of violence or terrorism.
“New Zealand was the first nation in the world to give women the vote [in 1893],” said Zoe Helene, who spent 10 years in New Zealand and often visits her parents, who live there. “A group of people brought a physical petition from one end of the island to the other, gathering signatures until it was a giant scroll. That scroll can be viewed in the museum now, and I think it should be something that tourists go to see, like the Statue of Liberty.”
New Zealand has generous allowances for supporting students, seniors, single parents, and children. “You know the saying ‘you can judge a civilization by how they care for their elders’? When a New Zealand citizen becomes a senior at 65 they automatically start receiving a generous government allowance, no matter who they are, no matter how much money they earned or inherited, and no matter when they arrived in the country,” Helene said.
Canada gets close to the Scandinavian countries in its high index scores, including availability to medical care and nutrition, as well as personal rights and basic knowledge.
Both the Canada and the United States rank high in all the indexes, but Canada scores better than the United States in political stability, and lack of violence or terrorism.
As Alia Bickson (a guide for Intrepid Travel) says “Canada is more progressive in its values than our neighbor to the south. For instance it would be quite rare for attitudes against a woman’s right to choose, or removing rights from LBGTQ persons, to become serious topics of debate. Of course, individuals have varying views, but the country as a whole supports policies in line with compassion and acceptance of varying life choices.”
Do not assume that Canadians’ courtesy and thoughtfulness means they are pushovers. Said Bickson “They have a sharp sense of fairness and will assess visitors’ behavior with a clear eye. [Canadians] don’t suffer fools gladly, so do your basic homework before arriving.”
Japan ranks the highest in Asia for overall effectiveness of the government, political stability and rule of law, it is also the highest in Asia in the area of social progress because of its access to water and sanitation, medical care and nutrition, and to basic knowledge.
Says Adam Goulston, a cross-cultural writer living in Japan “The effects of government policies are often quite evident in cleanliness, efficiency and functioning of tax-paid parts of society. Part of this can be attributed to the natural tendency of the Japanese to value social and public things and keep up appearances. However, a big part also owes to effective and in some cases quite liberal policies, especially in comparison to my home country, the US.”
Everyone has health insurance, although it is expensive, as it is income-based and taken from wages, but people can go to see any doctor at any time, and the costs are always capped. The population decline and the aging population puts pressure on the finances of the program, but generally the system does work. Some of the best cancer doctors in the world are in Japan.
The Japanese education system is strong. Elementary school and secondary school attendance is compulsory, and the schools rank highly compared with other countries. The schools are very systematic and regimented, they have made nutrition a priority in education, and school meals are prepared with local ingredients. The students receive lessons on food history and healthy eating.
Botswana is one of the best governed countries in Africa, particularly in its ability to contain corruption. After many cases of corruption in the past, the government started the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), which investigates and prosecutes government officials who are suspected of corruption. Also, the revenue from the diamond mining in the country has been well distributed for the overall benefit of the country.
Said Sehenyi Tlotlego, a Botswanan coordinator in a safari company “The entire country was founded on national unity and that is still the case to date. We are a nation that believes and practices ‘Ntwa kgolo ke ya molomo’, which means ‘Disputes are resolved effectively by debating them to a conclusion, and not by going to war’.”
The country has a reputation for having personal freedoms, having a high freedom of the press, and also personal property rights. This freedom extends to the character of the people. “Batswana are easy-going people, that believe in open talk and do not take kindly any hidden agendas. It is advisable to be open and discuss issues in the interest of resolving them. We are also a very liberal society where color, religion and gender doesn’t matter, and we will tackle, head-on, any form of injustice.” said Tlotlego
That has also led to strong social foundations which give citizens the opportunities they need to learn and stay healthy. Any village with a population of more than 500 has a primary school and medical clinic. The country also has strong measures for dealing with the HIV/AIDS virus, with free treatment to everyone testing positive.
Conservation is a strong feature in Botswana, and this has led to tourism creating 12% of the country’s GDP. “Most of the funds accrued from the tourism industry is plowed back into the protection of protected areas, wildlife management areas outside protected areas and the ever-growing anti-poaching unit. Botswana has set up and supported one of the strongest anti-poaching units in Africa.” said Tlotlego.
Chile has a reputation for its transparent and open government, its corruption control, and access to medical care and basic knowledge. This makes the country one of Latin America’s most corruption-free and stable governments.
“Whereas you might be expected to pay a bribe to police or politicians in other South American countries, that doesn’t happen in Chile,” said Peter Murphy Lewis, a tour company owner.
Even for foreigners, it is not hard to start a business or buy property, it takes a few weeks, compared to most other countries which take much longer. “While there is bureaucracy, it's not overly difficult to navigate,” said Mat Newton, a long time resident.
Health insurance in Chile is effective and affordable. The infrastructure is excellent. “Santiago, and Chile in general, has high-quality infrastructure which makes living there a relative breeze with none of the headaches one might associate with developing countries,” Newton said, talking about Chile’s top quality highway system, and almost universal access to electricity and water. Santiago has one of the world’s biggest urban parks, the 1780-acre Metropolitan Park, with many bike paths.
Chile is friendly and open to foreigners, but social classes make it hard to break into Chile’s social circles.