Iceland Mag

9 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Icelandic society most tolerant and inclusive worldwide, world's third highest quality of life

By Staff

  • Tolerance, happiness and high quality of life The fact that Icelanders enjoy one of the highest quality of life worldwide is reflected in high levels of happiness, tolerance and inclusion. In turn, tolerance and inclusion helps support the high quality of life. Photo/Sara

Iceland ranks among the countries which have been most successful in turning high levels of economic growth into a high quality of life for its residents. The latest release of the Social Progress Index (pdf) ranks Iceland as tied for third place out of 127 countries when it comes to quality of life and comes in first when it comes to inclusion and tolerance.

The top four spots on the list are all occupied by the Nordic countries, with Denmark topping the list, followed by Finland in second place and Iceland and Norway tied for third. Switzerland comes in fifth place. Sweden occupies the eight spot. The rank of the US 18th and the UK 12th.

A better way to measure social- and economic outcomes
The Social Progress Index focuses on measures which capture the quality of life of ordinary people and the degree to which societies are able to turn economic growth into positive social outcomes which matter to ordinary people. 

The research by the Social Progress Imperative in collaboration with Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School and Scott Stern of MIT, shows which countries do well at meeting basic human needs, at providing a foundation for wellbeing with basic education and environmental protection, and at creating opportunities for all citizens to make personal choices and reach their potential. 

Read more: International conference in Harpa to explore how growth is turned into social progress

Distinct from simply making residents happy, the Social Progress Index recognizes these countries for having produced the greatest social and environmental outcomes through effective policy making, inclusive programs and bold investment in social progress.

Icelandic strengths and weaknesses
The SPI reveals that Iceland has the strongest tolerance and inclusion measures of the 127 countries, with discrimination and violence against minorities the lowest globally. Iceland also scores at the top when it comes to religious tolerance and it also offers a strong community safety net.

Read more: Growing diversity: Immigrants now 12% of Icelandic population, up just 2.1% 20 years ago

Iceland also scores well when it comes to access to information and communications, coming in fifth, not least due to the fact that Iceland has the most people anywhere in the world using the Internet: More than 98% of the population uses the internet regularly, and due to high mobile phone subscription rate (100 phones per 100 citizens).

Perhaps surprisingly the primary weakness of Iceland is the environmental quality, where Iceland ranks 25th. This relatively low rank is due to the adverse effects of increased tourism, and the treatment of wastewater and poor scoring on measures of biodiversity and habitat protection.


Related content

Editor's Picks