Born in the USA? Too bad

Researchers have compiled a list of the best countries for babies to be born in, and the United States doesn't even crack the top 10.

By Bruce Kennedy Jan 23, 2013 10:25AM

Image: Baby (Elisa Cicinelli/Brand X Pictures/Jupiterimages)

America prides itself on being the land of opportunity, where anyone can make a better life for himself. But editors at The Economist are taking exception to that notion.

They have turned to their colleagues at a sister company, the Economist Intelligence Unit, for metrics to determine the best places for babies to be born in 2013.

The Economist used the group’s economic forecasts to 2030 to figure out where children born this year might be, financially and otherwise, when they reach adulthood.

It also looked at a variety of factors -- such as geography, demographics, state of the world economy, personal income and security -- to come up with its conclusions.

According to The Economist, given all those indicators, where is the luckiest place for a baby to be born in 2013? 

Here are the top 10 countries for a newborn to have "the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead."

  1. Switzerland
  2. Australia
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Denmark
  6. Singapore
  7. New Zealand
  8. Netherlands
  9. Canada
  10. Hong Kong

"America," according to the magazine, "where babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation, languishes back in 16th place."

Nigeria comes in last.

The Economist notes that "despite their economic dynamism," none of the so-called BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- did well on the list, either.

The magazine acknowledges its list has a lot of smaller economies in the top 10.

The current global economic crisis, it says, has also "left a deep imprint" in the eurozone, affecting unemployment and personal security there. The Netherlands was the only eurozone nation to make it into the top 10.

Of course, as with all top 10 lists, a lot of The Economist’s findings are arbitrary.

"Quibblers will, of course, find more holes in all this than there are in a chunk of Swiss cheese," says the magazine, which also notes that, speaking of Swiss cheese, Switzerland rates high on its "yawn index."

And regarding Switzerland's dubious standing as the top place to be born, the magazine quotes a line from Orson Welles' villainous character in the classic postwar movie "The Third Man:"

"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Jan 23, 2013 11:18AM
It's no surprise or consequence. The U.S. is heading in the other direction. We have been destroying and dismantling away our Constitution, personal liberties, free market capitalism and the principles on which this once great Republic was founded upon in exchange for a Socialist, Police, central planning, nanny State. Very sad, very sad indeed.
Jan 23, 2013 1:58PM
Unlike the US every one of those countries has Universal Healthcare, corporations aren't legally classified as people, and governments that actually work in the best interests of their Entire populations
Jan 23, 2013 11:58AM
The US has become a cry baby society. the "me"society has transformed into the woe is me society.
Jan 23, 2013 1:11PM
After 30 years of being trickled on, what did you expect?
Jan 23, 2013 12:52PM
My ancestors were from Switzerland.  Given the state of our nation today, I wish my ancestors had stayed put.
Jan 23, 2013 1:21PM

Not surprising Hong Kong made the top10. That's where all the jobs are, now that the U.S gets most of it's goods from there.

Jan 23, 2013 3:04PM
One of the lucky reasons anyone born in these countries is if in the event they need to be defended or liberated it likely will be by the United States, not by anyone else on the list...
Jan 24, 2013 9:11AM

"America," according to the magazine, "where babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation, languishes back in 16th place."

Really, the boomer generation is responsible for all of this debt?  Seems to me that 47% of the USA is standing around with their hands out...  I think the boomers paid their fair share during a lifetime of work.  Pretty hard to blame one generation.  Typical.

Jan 23, 2013 11:34AM
Obviously, the cuckoo clock was first made in the Black Forest.  Italy may have economic problems but rather than comparable Swiss or "American" products I'd prefer Italian suits, Italian sports cars, Italian art, Italian music, Italian architecture (including the Hermitage), Italian food, even Italian shotguns (Fabbri, Piotti, etc,).  I could go on but their accomplishments have been amazing. We can even still read Livy, Lucretius and many others because of their efforts. The atom was split, radio developed (though not invented), medicine and surgery advanced by them.  Huge contributions from a small country despite numerous wars, plagues, etc.
Jan 23, 2013 2:46PM

You have to realize that many of these Countries are "neutralist" and somewhat Socialist in the ways they operate...


Early on some civilizations started out this way, after going through many other ways to Rule or Conquer, they realize that it wasn't worth all the trouble except to further their causes AND,,,,

Number One....Greed..


They don't want to be "World Cop" anymore and have reached a satisfactory point in life, once again where everyone...CONTRIBUTES a LITTLE to the CAUSE.

And they use their heads and not so much Brawn..

In someways America is headed that direction, but greed and capitalism is a long term process.

Jan 23, 2013 2:55PM

Early on in many societies, MOST everyone worked for the greater good...Of the Collective..

They all had their problems, just like some situations today..


Some groups still function that way today, with common or appointed/elected leaders..

Some still take care of their elders as way of life, and the little children...

But they all contribute if able...

Ahhhh, the "Good Old Days."

Jan 23, 2013 8:59PM
Moj( ado) 411: the litany of countries you offered aren't forced to pay for hoards of illegals and their families that are invading their countries like what is happening here.
Jan 23, 2013 6:16PM
Yep, you come out of the womb and are handed a bill for your share of the debt...   About $54000 which you are expect to pay.

Those born elsewhere don't have to make those payments...

Please make your checks out to the USA....
Jan 23, 2013 5:59PM
Promise them "Free" anything and you will have their support....  No mind you nothing is free, it usually must be paid for by theft from someone else.

Business will adapt to Obamacare.   We will not give workers more than 30 hours a week in the future.   We will not provide healthcare.  We will lower their wages to pay the Obamacare fines.  We will be OK with this.  The middle class once again will have to pay for the poor.   

Once the middle class are eliminated Marx says it will be easy to drive the rich away.   Then everyone remaining will be poor.  The elite will use the bayonet to force them to work, just like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, etc... and eventually they will go back to capitalism and get rid of the elitist left.   
Jan 23, 2013 5:03PM

Why are people still doing nothing about anything?

Think about it, our country is ruined!

Thanks Mr. Presidents.

Jan 24, 2013 9:13AM
Switzerland is a rogue country who created laws so that criminals can hide fraud funds in Swiss banks.  The Swiss banks, Swiss people and Switzerland benefited because almost no interest was paid on trillions of dollars deposited in the Swiss banks and moreover, many times the deposits were not even withdrawn.
Jan 23, 2013 7:41PM

Its the Lawyers causing all the problems, you can't do anything.  Did anyone notice the cute baby?

Jan 24, 2013 3:46AM
When did Hong Kong become autonomous?
Jan 23, 2013 3:05PM
Of course they did not include freedom and liberty.
Jan 23, 2013 8:05PM
It never fails to amaze me when it comes to the stupidity of conservatives/right-wingers. They are so misinformed about the world and history.  The countries that topped the list all have Socialized Medicine, aka Universal Healthcare. These are among the happiest and healthiest countries.



 Universal Health Care
NorwaySingle Payer
New ZealandTwo Tier
JapanSingle Payer
GermanyInsurance Mandate
BelgiumInsurance Mandate
United KingdomSingle Payer
KuwaitSingle Payer
SwedenSingle Payer
BahrainSingle Payer
BruneiSingle Payer
CanadaSingle Payer
AustriaInsurance Mandate
United Arab EmiratesSingle Payer
FinlandSingle Payer
SloveniaSingle Payer
LuxembourgInsurance Mandate
AustraliaTwo Tier
ItalySingle Payer
PortugalSingle Payer
CyprusSingle Payer
GreeceInsurance Mandate
SpainSingle Payer
South KoreaInsurance Mandate
IcelandSingle Payer
Hong KongTwo-Tier
SwitzerlandInsurance Mandate




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