The Healthiest Countries in the World

See Also: The happiest countries in the world

Which are the healthiest countries in the world? To answer this question, analysts at 24/7 Wall St. analysed 174 nations for a wide range of factors such as life expectancy, infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births, health expenditure per capita and unemployment rate, amongst others such as health behaviours, access to health services and economic factors. Measures of health are complex and cannot be determined by a single measure such as life expectancy (click here to learn about the methodology employed).

The research is useful because it highlights that a range of factors such as spending on healthcare, infrastructure, the economy, health indicators and access to medical and other vital services is required to capture the complexity of a nation’s health. Likewise, no single measure can explain an outcome such as longevity - factors such as smoking and obesity were not absent in the healthiest countries, for example.

In what may surprise many, Qatar leads the way as the healthiest country in the world (with Sudan being the least healthy), but which other countries make the top ten? Have a look below.

1. Qatar

  • Life expectancy: 77.6
  • Infant mortality rate: 7.0 
  • Health expenditure per capita: $2,029
  • Unemployment rate: 0.5%

A good life expectancy, low infant mortality rate and high spending on healthcare contribute to Qatar’s top billing in this list. Qatar also has more than 7 physicians per 1,000 people, the highest in the world. Qatar does have a problem with obesity, however: its obesity rate is the second highest in the world.

2. Norway

  • Life expectancy: 79.5 
  •  Infant mortality Rate: 2.3 
  •  Health expenditure per capita: $9,055
  •  Unemployment rate: 3.5%

Norway spends more than any other country on health care. The Infant mortality rate is very low here, one of the lowest in the world. The Norwegians have excellent access to health professionals – around four physicians per 1,000 people - health facilities, and access to services such as clean water and electricity is one of the best in the world. In a separate study Norway was ranked as the least stressful country in the world.

3. Switzerland

  • Life expectancy: 80.6
  • Infant mortality rate: 3.6
  • Health expenditure per capita: $8,980
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%

Switzerland boasts the second highest life expectancy in the world and is the third healthiest nation on earth. This is despite its above average consumption of alcohol, relatively high smoking rates and high incidence of tuberculosis. Switzerland’s high ranking is thought to be due in large part to its substantial spending on health care – the second highest in the world.

4. Luxembourg

  • Life expectancy: 79.1 
  • Infant mortality rate: 1.6
  • Health expenditure per capita: $7,452 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%

The grand duchy of Luxembourg has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. Its life expectancy is equally impressive too, at 79.1. As is the case with the top three on this list, a very high health care expenditure is thought to be the key to its high ranking in the table – Luxembourg has the fourth highest per capita health care spending. On the minus side, the country’s level of alcohol consumption is relatively high, and obesity is also a concern – the national obesity rate is over 20 percent.

5. Japan

  • Life expectancy: 79.9
  • Infant mortality rate: 2.1
  • Health expenditure per capita: $4,752
  • Unemployment rate: 4.0%

Japan enjoys one of the best life expectancy rates worldwide and also extremely low infant mortality rates. Its adult obesity rate is also one of the lowest in the world at 3.3 percent. Although it is rated as one of the healthiest countries in the world, smoking rates for both men and women are quite high, and the country also has higher than the global average of CO2 emissions.

6. Iceland

  • Life expectancy: 81.6 
  • Infant mortality rate: 1.6
  • Health expenditure per capita: $3,872 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Iceland boasts the highest life expectancy in the world, a full year longer than Switzerland, which has the second highest life expectancy. Iceland also has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world – tied with Luxembourg. Although not the highest, its health care expenditure per capita is also a key factor in its high ranking.

7. Austria

  • Life expectancy: 78.4
  • Infant mortality rate: 3.2 
  • Health expenditure per capita: $5,407
  • Unemployment rate: 4.9%

A high level of health care expenditure enables a strong health infrastructure for better health outcomes, and the Austrians have the ninth highest expenditure on healthcare. Austrians also enjoy a health care system that offers nearly 5 doctors per 1000 people, the fourth highest in the world. Although Austria is one of the healthiest countries in the world, almost half of the country’s adult population smokes.

8. Singapore

  • Life expectancy: 79.9
  •  Infant mortality rate: 2.2
  •  Health expenditure per capita: $2,426
  • Unemployment rate: 2.8%

Singapore boasts both a strong economy and low unemployment – one of the lowest in the world. It also does remarkably well on the healthcare front: Singapore has one of the lowest obesity rates in the world and life expectancy is one of the highest worldwide.

9. Sweden

  • Life expectancy: 79.9 
  • Infant mortality rate: 2.4
  • Health expenditure per capita: $5,319 
  • Unemployment rate: 8.1%

The Swedes live longer than most people, with a life expectancy that is the fifth highest in the world. As with all the healthiest countries, they invest significantly in healthcare. Health coverage is universal, and patient fees cover only a fraction of health costs. The combination of high investment in healthcare and strong coverage result in good outcomes compared with most countries.

10. Australia

  • Life expectancy: 79.9 
  • Infant mortality rate: 3.4
  • Health expenditure per capita: $6,140 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.7%

Despite its relatively high obesity rate (nearly 30 percent) and high alcohol consumption, Australia is the tenth healthiest nation in the world. Significant expenditure on healthcare, a strong national healthcare system and more than twice the global average of 1.5 physicians per 1,000 Australians – explain its high ranking.

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