Kiwis live well and prosper

November 2, 2009

New Zealand has made it into the top 10 of a list of the world's most successful countries, according to a global survey of wealth and happiness. New Zealand ranks 10th in a "prosperity index" of 104 nations covering 90 per cent of the world's population released last week by London-based free market think-tank the Legatum Institute. Finland takes the top spot, while Australia ranks sixth. Unsurprisingly, Zimbabwe is at the bottom. The survey brings together data on economic growth with ratings for democracy, social provision, happiness and quality of life. It shows the most prosperous nations are not necessarily those that have only a high GDP, but also those that have happy, healthy, and free citizens. A key finding is that it is true money can't buy happiness - unless you are poor. Only in the poorest countries do increases in income have a significant effect on people's life satisfaction. Most New Zealanders see themselves as healthy. With few bureaucratic hoops to jump through to start a new business, a spirit of entrepreneurship prevails in New Zealand. Just over half of the population owns a computer, ranking New Zealand near the global average on this measure. Efficient and open processes inspire public confidence in New Zealand's businesses and Government, the report says. Economic and commercial activities are well regulated, business institutions inspire high levels of confidence, and New Zealanders believe their government and businesses are largely free from corruption.