The United Nations ranked Israel
15th in its annual flagship report on comprehensive human development, which was published on Thursday.
The Human Development Report, issued annually by the UN Development Program (UNDP), assesses the state of human development on the basis of health, education and income indicators, as an alternative to purely macroeconomic assessments of national progress.
Norway is leading in the UN rating, followed by Australia, New Zealand and the US. Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe occupy the last three positions in the list.
Asia was the region that progressed fastest in terms of human development since 1970, with China and Indonesia leading the way. Some Arab countries, especially Oman, and many Latin American nations showed marked progress as well, the report said.
There were five Asian countries on the top 10 list of countries showing the most improvement: China (No. 2), Nepal (No. 3), Indonesia (No. 4), Laos (No. 6) and South Korea (No. 8).
Arab countries made up the other five on the list: Oman, now heavily investing its energy earnings into public education and health, was No. 1, followed by Saudi Arabia (No. 5), Tunisia (No. 7), Algeria (No. 9) and Morocco (No. 10).
Life expectancy in Arab countries overall increased from 51 years in 1970 to almost 70 today, the greatest gain of any region. Infant mortality rates in the Arab world plunged from 98 deaths per 1,000 live births to 38, below the current world average of 44. School enrolment in Arab countries nearly doubled over 40 years, from 34 per cent in 1970 to 64 per cent today.
The UN has divided the 169 countries in its list into four groups according to a level of human development: "very high," "high," "medium" and "low."
The UN report concludes that "people today are generally healthier, wealthier and better educated than they were in 1970."
"The majority of developing countries have made dramatic but underestimated gains in health and education in recent decades, although severe inequalities within and between countries remain," the UN said on its website.
Progress made by many countries is "not directly linked with national economic growth, showing that impressive long-term gains can and have been made even without consistent economic performance."