Switzerland is not getting a fair shake in many of these international indexes, perhaps others don’t either.
The country is for me very important because it is the best society in the World, by most measures. I am not Swiss, just in case you thought I am.
Switzerland is also a direct democracy at all levels of government; national, state-regional, and local. It is the only direct democracy humans have now. Some day all countries will have direct democracy, just like they all now have Internet.
Direct democracy means “the people are the final decision-makers on all important issues”; not the elected representatives, not the judges in the highest courts.
Direct democracy is the next step in the development of representative democracy. I have no doubt the best representative democracies are ready now for the transition to direct democracy.
Such a move will overcome the key problems we see in most representative democracies.
The Better Life Index is wrong in its ranking of Switzerland. Its ranking does not help the advancement of direct democracy. Direct democracy is necessary for a better life.
But let us look at the OECD’s “Better Life Index”. The Index includes several categories. I will analyze only the categories in which I have enough knowledge.
Education is one category the OECD considers is a big factor for a better life. I am certain education is The Essential Factor for a better life.
Unfortunately, I do not think the way the OECD looks at education captures the factors that produce a better life. I even believe some factors the OECD looks at are wrong or irrelevant. I will show why I believe that.
Under “Education”, the OECD includes Educational Attainment, Years in Education and Student Skills.
Educational Attainment refers to the percentage of students who have completed upper secondary education.
In Educational Attainment, the OECD ranks Switzerland behind Finland, Australia, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Slovenia, Japan, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Korea, Check Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Norway.
Another indicator is the Number of Years Students Spend in the Educational System. By this indicator, Switzerland ranks behind Australia, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Iceland, Greece, Netherlands, Lithuania, Slovenia, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Spain, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Estonia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
Just look at some countries ahead of Switzerland on that list! It is absurd to consider years of education as an indicator of the quality of life of a country.
Several of the countries ranked ahead of Switzerland are barely functioning democracies. They are plagued by corruption, low technological development, high unemployment, weak health care systems, much lower standard of living, political and social instability, etc.
To see how this ranking is not just wrong, it is ridiculous, do this: assume that fewer years of education produce a better life. Now look at the countries ranked even lower than Switzerland, countries with even FEWER years of education; Chile, Canada, Korea, United States, Austria, Portugal, Italy, France, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, Luxembourg, Colombia.
Compare now this list with the list of countries with MORE years of education than Switzerland.
It is obvious several with fewer years of education than Switzerland are much better societies than several with more years.
The OECD should scrap years of education as a factor in the quality of life.
Another indicator the OECD uses is Student Skills.
To assess student skills, the OECD considers the results of the well-known PISA surveys as the indicator. Unfortunately, the PISA surveys measure reading skills, math skills, and science skills IN THE CLASSROOM, not in the actual world of work or family life.
PISA does not consider the ability to apply those skills in real-life situations. It considers neither skills that are even more important to have a good and advanced society; skills such as work cooperatively, solve real-life problems, psychological maturity, initiative, self-responsibility, tolerance of different views, creativity, common sense, ability to discuss problems, and on and on.
In student skills, the OCDE places the following countries ahead of Switzerland: Japan, Estonia, Canada, Finland, Korea, Slovenia, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. Again, overall, Switzerland is ahead of them in the real World.
My conclusion: How can education, as measured by the indicators, be so important when Switzerland has higher standard of living (with no natural resources), better health care, better democracy, more rights, more social and political stability, etc. than the countries ranked ahead of it in “Education”?
Something is wrong with the Better Life Index.
I do not know what educational factors really produce a better life, but those in the OECD Index need a heavy tune-up. As it is now, the Index hemorrhages credibility.
The real factors correlating education with a better life are not those in the Index. Direct democracy is a better life.