- Chris Nemes/Shutterstock
The US excels in many things – including big business and military might – but there are some things other countries do undeniably better.
For example, the US has a long way to go to catch up to Sweden’s 480 days of paid parental leave. And there’s no telling if Americans will ever see the rock-bottom tuition prices of Germany or Denmark, where taxpayers foot most of the bill.
Here’s a sampling of what US citizens are missing out on.
The Netherlands is heaven for pedestrians.
An overpopulation of bicycles might get annoying sometimes, but Dutch citizens encounter few of the problems of car-congested cities.
In the Netherlands, cars give pedestrians and bicyclists the right of way, and bike lanes are clearly separated from the car lanes.
Today, between 20 and 40% of all trips in Dutch cities are made by bike.
South Korea’s public transportation puts others to shame.
- Lee Jae Won/Reuters
Compared to the jam-packed subways that never seem to arrive on time, South Korea’s transit system is a dream. The train cars are much wider than other systems, the fares are cheaper, and the stations are generally cleaner.
“Your transit card works in the buses and taxis and can also be used as a debit card at local convenient stores,” one rider wrote for Jalopnik, “and they have the nicest jingles that play when the train is arriving.”
South Korea also boasts the fastest internet.
- Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters
According to the 2017 State of the Internet report, South Korea’s average internet speed of 28.6 Mbps is the world’s fastest.
Select cities may boast far faster speeds around the world, but the report suggests that Koreans enjoy the most consistently fast usage across all areas.
Norway and Sweden came in second and third, respectively, with speeds of 23.5 and 22.5 Mbps.
Swedish parental leave may be the world’s most generous.
- Chris Nemes/Shutterstock
New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of leave at 80% of their normal pay. That’s on top of the 18 weeks reserved just for mothers, after which the parents can split up the time however they choose.
Sweden is unique in that dads also get 90 paid paternity days reserved just for them. The idea is to promote bonding between father and child during a time when moms are getting most of the attention.
Japanese gun violence is almost non-existent.
If Japanese people want to own a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test.
Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles – no handguns – and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam.
Today, there are fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the country of 127 million.
Denmark’s free college tuition lets students learn at their own pace.
Danish higher education is free to all citizens, as it’s funded by taxpayer dollars. Many of the universities are also highly rated compared to other international schools, most notably the University of Copenhagen.
Free tuition encourages students to switch majors, or sometimes transfer to new schools, because they don’t have the pressure of cost. In some cases, this can actually lead students to hang around for too long, a trend known as “eternity students.”
Luxembourg has the best healthcare in the world.
- Yves Herman/Reuters
According to the most recent Prosperity Index, a measure of global progress released by the research firm the Legatum Institute, Luxembourg took the top spot in healthcare rankings.
The firm compared each country’s attention to basic mental and physical health, its health infrastructure, and the availability of preventative care.
One of the wealthiest countries in the world, the tiny nation also has a high life expectancy of 82.
Australia’s mandatory voting transformed its electorate.
- David Gray/Reuters
In the US, only about half of the eligible voter poll comes out to the polls. Researchers have evidence to suggest compulsory voting would help raise those rates and introduce more diverse voters.
In Australia, voting has been mandatory since 1924, and there is a fine for not voting of $20. If you keep skipping, the fine rises to $50. If you never pay up you could lose your driver’s license.
“When Australia passed compulsory voting, the Labor Party did better and you saw more progressive policies in line with what the working class was advocating for,” Anthony Fowler, a University of Chicago policy researcher, told Business Insider.