New Zealand is named the world's most socially advanced country, beating the U.S., Australia and other developed nations. Social Progress Imperative, a think-tank based in Washington, has ranked New Zealand as the number one nation out of 130 countries.
New Zealand bested other countries based on 54 social progress indicators including personal rights and freedoms. The country was among the top four in the areas of water and sanitation, access to schools and tertiary education and tolerance for minority groups.
New Zealand ranked 28th based on nutrition and basic medical care due to a relatively high death rate of women giving birth. The country was 35th in the health and well-being according to high suicide and obesity rates. New Zealand landed in the 32nd spot for ecosystem sustainability.
Dr. Sue Belgrave, an obstetrician in Auckland and chairman in the national committee on maternal mortality, clarified New Zealand figures included several deaths from pre-existing conditions and suicide.
She noted she was not saying the country was perfect. New Zealand had recorded 15 deaths for every 100,000 live births. She added the figures were an "accurate reflection" of what's happening in New Zealand. Belgrave thought this does not happen to other nations.
Since New Zealand has a high suicide and obesity rates, it ranked 76th and 115th out of 130 countries.
Out of 100 points, New Zealand scored 88.24 to grab the top spot as the world's most socially advanced country. Switzerland followed closely behind with 88.24 points ahead of Iceland, Netherlands and Norway. Australia ranked 10th from the list with a score of 86.10 points. The U.S. scored 82.77 points, which made it in 16th place.
Aside from being the most socially advanced country, New Zealand currently enjoys a strong economic growth. Its economy grew 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 which indicates the programs of the government are working, according to Finance Minister Bill English.
English said more businesses were willing to invest for the long-term to support higher wages and boost productivity. Compared to other developed countries, New Zealand's 0.9 percent quarterly GDP growth indicated a strong performance.