Via Sticky Artz I came across the The Quality of Life Index 2007 by InternationalLiving.com according to which the following 10 countries are the best places to live in considering Cost of Living, Leisure & Culture, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Risk & Safety, Climate indicators.
4 New Zealand
5 United States
Even considering the fact, that this does not have the pretense of being a serious scientific study I am very skeptical about the figures and scores presented in the study and also rather frustrated by it (see Table 1.1). The fact is, that even if nobody takes it seriously, such indexes create a certain opinion around the world about this or that country and the region in general. In case of the South Caucasus, and Armenia the general opinion looks pretty bad, and while I accept, that life isn’t exactly heavens here, there must be at least some logic in the figures presented, which I failed to see in these tables. Hence, according to this study of world’s quality of life index, Armenia occupies the 84th position, along with Georgia, while Azerbaijan is far behind at 130 position (Talbe 1.1).
Table 1.1: South Caucasus Quality of Life Index
From the way the study is presented – it turns out the quality of life has been deteriorating throughout the South Caucasus. In comparison with 2006 Georgia has degraded by 3 points, Armenia – 16, Azerbaijan – 23. However, looking at the figures more closely, one would see, that Armenia has lost only 1 point of its total score, going from 62 points to 61. The next table that I’ve made combining the two studies from 2006 and 2007 show even stranger results (red areas in 2007 figures are bad, black are good):
Table 1.2: Armenia – quality of life index changes in 2006-2007
According to the study Risk & Safety have gone up +14 points!, while we see a growing number of car accidents, shootings in the streets, etc, and definitely more this year then last year (I don’t have data to support this point however).
On the other hand I don’t see any reason for -28 poins fall of the health indicator over the last year, even if we consider the HIV/AIDs and Tuberculoses cases registered in 2006 and 2007. Perhaps the number was just put there to make sure figures add up in the end?
Another important issue is that the cost of living indicator which has only lost -2 points here. The reality is, cost of living has gone from bad to worse over the past couple of years with around 50% appreciation of Armenian Dram’s value against US dollar since 2003, paired with strong inflation of prices expressed in US dollars, which, given the fact of widespread dollarisation of Armenia’s economy means, that while inflation does not look so scary expressed in Armenian drams (only 4% inflation expected in 2007) the fact that the main incomes of population are in US dollars result in doubling of living costs since 2003 for the majority of population. Notes From Hairenik has also spoken about this in a recent post.
As to the environment, which according to the study has improved by +8 points, this post from Oneworld Multimedia and the accompanying photos tell you all you need to know – it is becoming dreadful!
Komitas, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2007