Surak constructs an index of quality of life based on nine publicly-available series.  I wish he had provided additional links to his sources, and the method by which he scaled each series and weighted them to create the index.  (That's the scut-work side of social science, and I've been there and done that and it's good practice.)  Here's what it maps to, country by country, with the red end being lowest and the violet end highest.

He goes on to further aggregate, using something called cluster analysis, the countries.  There's a strong correlation between Western institutions, relatively transparent governments, and higher quality of life.  I'm sure there are other ways to interpret the data, and cases to be made for adding or removing series from the index, and that's a reason to be more explicit about the methods used to construct the axis.  And that, dear reader, is why we call it research.

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