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FOREIGN POLICY

Norway best to live in but worst for trade: UN study

Norway, Australia and the Netherlands are “the best (three) countries to live in”, according to Thursday’s UN Human Development Index ranking for 2011, but Norway's trade policies fared much worse.

Norway best to live in but worst for trade: UN study
Photo: Wilhelm Joys Andersen

A levy of tariffs on products headed to Norway and dubious help for democracy in Central Asia has given Norway a bottom ranking in trade policy. The developing world is especially hard hit by Oslo’s trade and aid, according to at least one professional observer and a respected US think tank.

In the Centre for Global Development’s appraisal of Norway’s impact on the world’s poor, the country comes in last. Developing world food and clothing is made especially uncompetitive when bumping up against Scandinavian retailers, the CGD’s Commitment to Development Index said.

“There is no doubt the sky-high customs walls around Norway and the powerful subsidies give us the bottom ranking,” newspaper Aftenposten quoted Progress Party trade policy critic Jørund Rytman as saying. He said he thinks Norway should abolish all levies on items from developing-world countries, beyond the 64 poorer states to which Oslo grants toll-free status.

Meanwhile, a giant subsidy for Norwegian farmers and easy loans from village banks topped up by oil money round out the unnatural competitive strengths faced by Norway-bound wares.

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QUALITY OF LIFE

Why are young people in Norway less happy with life? 

New research has found that during a ten-year period from 2009 to 2019, young people in Norway have gone from being the happiest with their quality of life to the least satisfied. 

Pictured is two young people chatting in Oslo.
Research has found that young people are less happy than they were a decade ago. Pictured is two young people chatting in Oslo. Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

The happiness and quality of life of young people in Norway declined between 2009 and 2019, new research has shown. 

Over ten years, the happiness of 15-24 year olds and 25-39 year olds declined 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively. This switched their place in the standings from the happiest age groups to the least satisfied. 

The findings came as a surprise to researchers as younger people had traditionally been the happiest in society. 

“The decline in happiness levels for people between the ages of 15 and 39 is particularly surprising because young people have traditionally used to score higher than older people on feelings of happiness,” one of the researchers, Ottar Hellevik, from the University, told public broadcaster NRK

“It is clear that something is happening to young people, which there is every reason to take seriously,” he added. 

The research from Ottar Hellevik, a professor at the University of Oslo and Tale Hellevik of Oslo Metropolitan University analysed data from quality of life surveys dating back to 1985. 

The research pointed to several factors for the decline in happiness, such as concerns around young people’s career opportunities, their financial situation and worries surrounding life-changing events such as climate change. 

“I am worried about the future. We hear about climate change every day,” Hedda Hugdahl Skjold, a student in Trondheim, told NRK. 

READ ALSO: How happy are foreign residents with their quality of life in Norway?

Another worry for young people was getting onto the property ladder. 

“I am worried about getting on the property ladder. My god, it is a crisis. At least in Norway,” Sigrid Jøras Larsen, also a student, told the public broadcaster. 

“These are completely outrageous prices. I do not have a job and haven’t started saving yet. It makes me quite stressed,” she added. 

The pressures of social media were another factor negatively impacting young people’s happiness. 

“I think you are being watched on all fronts. You are expected to excel in many areas—both socially and at school. You become more visible through social media,” Larsen said. 

Hellvik said that the trend of young people becoming unhappier could be reversed, and it wasn’t a given that they would remain less satisfied with life as they grow older. 

“This can be repaired with the right measures. Among other things, this points to the importance of being able to provide start-up loans and mortgages and better young peoples opportunities to enter the housing market,” the professor explained. 

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