This blog has, over the past couple of months, carried a number of stories that demonstrated that the south was not the sort of poor third-world banana-republic that unionists used to claim. In fact, as this blog pointed out, in terms of direct British-Irish comparison the south is:
Today, though, in a spirit of honesty and openness, this blog must make reference to a new survey – the 2010 Quality of Life Index, published by International Living magazine.
The Index 'ranks and rates 194 countries to come up with a list of the places that offer the best quality of life'. To produce the annual Index International Living considers nine categories: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate. They take data from the following sources to compile the Quality of Life Index:
UNESCO Statistical Yearbook; Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties; United States Department of Commerce; U.S. State Department; The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention; The Freedom House Survey; Statistical Abstract of the United States; The World Factbook; The World Almanac and Book of Facts; U.S. Department of State Indexes of Living Costs Abroad, Quarters Allowances, and Hardship Differentials; The World Health Organization; The Economist World in Figures. And they ask their editors from around the world to comment on their official findings to give a more realistic view of the numbers.
The full methodology, including the weightings used, is provided on their website.
The bad news, from this blog's perspective, is that Ireland scores slightly lower than Britain: 41st place against Britain's 25th place. Neither place is, of course, very good – both are beaten by countries like Belgium, Lithuania, Portugal and Hungary!
10% of the Index's weight is given on the basis of climate, which is not something that anyone can do much about, so the slightly higher score given to Britain than to Ireland seems unfair. If the true comparison is between the north and the south of Ireland, of course, the climate score should be adjusted to reflect the reality that both parts enjoy an equally poor climate.
The 2010 Quality of Life Index can easily be criticised – it is a rather unscientific compilation made by a commercial magazine publisher –what it includes, or excludes, and the weightings given to the factors included are open to question. Dramatic changes in scores given to slow-evolving issues (health, environment, etc) from 2009 to 2010 call the whole thing into question. Nonetheless, in a spirit of fairness this blog would simply like to record that in this one unscientific example, the UK has come out higher than the south of Ireland.