Jens Wandel, the Dane who heads UNDP's administrative department, told NTB that Norway's success in combining solid income growth with a high level of equality had secured its world-leading position.
“Norway has over time managed to increase its income, and at the same time ensured that incomes are relatively evenly distributed,” he said.
“Norway has also succeeded in investing in education and in health. In addition, Norway has a high level of equality between men and women, and these things typically go hand in hand with a high human development level.”
Norway is closely followed by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands in the ranking, while its neighbours Sweden, Finland and Russia lagged behind at 14, 24, and 50 respectively.
At the bottom of the list came Niger, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Chad.
The report noted the considerably progress made on living standards worldwide since the report was first compiled in 1990, with two billion people rising up from the lowest development category.
Wandel argued that for this improvement to continue governments needed to focus more on reducing unemployment and properly valuing unpaid labour, particularly that work carried out by women.
According to the report, 52 percent of all work worldwide is done out by women, but they only receive a third of the salaries.