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The world’s most prosperous countries

The world’s most prosperous countries thumbnail

The most prosperous nations

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Australia
5. New Zealand
6. Canada
7. Finland
8. Netherlands
9. Switzerland
10. Ireland


Scandinavian winners

Scandinavian countries lead the way in this year’s study.


Norway retains its position as the most prosperous nation for the fourth year running. Denmark too has maintained second place, a position it has had since 2009 and Sweden has taken the 3rd spot from Australia.


Big shocks

The United States fell out of the top ten for the first time, finishing in 12th.


Even though the US improved on education, it performed badly in five of the eight other sub-indexes.


The biggest loss was of eight points in the entrepreneurship & opportunity category, which the report explains is driven by US citizens no longer believing hard work will get them ahead. So much for the American Dream.



Western Europe fared well in the index with most countries ranking in the top 30, apart from Greece and Italy which ranked 49th and 33rd respectively.


The UK missed out on a top ten spot but kept up its position as 13th in the world review, a rank it has held since 2009.


Elsewhere, Germany came just behind at 14th, France 21st and Spain 23rd.


Central European countries placed near the middle of the rankings, apart from the Czech Republic and Slovenia who both got a top 30 spot.


Overall most European nations have seen a drop in their economy sub-index scores, with the effect more pronounced in western Europe. The largest drops in this sub-section came from Greece, Spain, Iceland and Lithuania.


But some were able to rise despite the economic challenges of the year. Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Moldova all scored better in this year’s index for economy.


Four countries stood out for their overall improvements in overall prosperity; Slovakia, Moldova, Slovenia and Estonia. The report notes how these Eastern European countries are on the rise while some western countries slow down.



The Legatum reports notes that the key drivers of prosperity in the top 50 countries were governance and entrepreneurship. But in developing countries health and education played a more important role.


Strong social capital in areas of social cohesion (like tolerance of immigrant populations) and engagement (like volunteering) was related to high levels of satisfaction and in turn economic capital.


Another trend that surfaced in the report was that 27 out of the top 30 countries were democratic nations.


Economy high-fliers

The report identifies eastern countries as ranking well in the economy sub-index. Six of the top fifteen in this category are in Asia.


Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all come top ten when you look at the economy scores in isolation. China, Japan and Malaysia follow closely behind.


Fast climbers

The report indicates that Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are rising fast in the prosperity index.


The report cites Indonesia as experiencing the biggest jump in prosperity globally since 2009 moving 26 places to 63rd.


Big drops

Syria has dropped 30 positions in the sub-section category of social capital, which measures things like social cohesion and tolerance, to place 131st while Tunisia has dropped 32 to 122nd.


Elsewhere the US in the economy sub-index ranking has dropped to 20th this year, a total drop of seven places since 2009. The US now lies in twentieth position, trailing Asia’s leading economies and in the shadow of Germany which ranked 6th.


The least prosperous nations

These are the countries that ranked bottom in the report.


133. Ethipoia
134. Yemen
135. Zimbabwe
136. Togo
137. Burundi
138. Haiti
140. Afghanistan
141. Congo (DR)
142. Central African Republic


Sub-Saharan Africa remains a bleak part of the world with 24 out of 30 of the lowest ranking countries located in this area.


The nations that did the best in this part of the world were Botswana who ranked 70th followed by South Africa 74th and Namibia 83rd.



12 Comments on "The world’s most prosperous countries"

  1. Shaved Monkey on Tue, 30th Oct 2012 9:58 pm 

    Looking at that list it seems a bit of democratic socialism is pretty good for prosperity

  2. Arthur on Tue, 30th Oct 2012 11:24 pm 

    The US would still be on top if they had kept their borders closed for third world immigration. They did not and now, unsurprisingly, the US is becoming a third world country. Diversity is not your strength, but your demise. For a detailed background on why Euro America committed sociocide on itself read:

    This drama began on the day after the assassination of JFK, the last protector of Euro America.

    BTW, the 12th position on the list is probably not realistic, because the reserve currency status (basically a free lunch) is still factored in. If the rest of the world will start to refuse accept an ever inflating dollar, only God knows many places the US will drop further on that list.

  3. Arthur on Tue, 30th Oct 2012 11:32 pm 

    Oh I forgot to mention that tiny Norway’s first place has to do with its oil wealth. Very inspiring is the second position of Denmark, that hardly has any resources worth mentioning… except wind! Denmark is leading the way in transforming its energy base. So it is very well possible to be very advanced with renewables.

    BTW, Norway sells its oil abroad but at home generates a whopping 100% of its electricity with hydro power.

  4. BillT on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 12:55 am 

    The fact that most of the top 30 are ‘democracies’ will change. As The West collapses under debt and the dollar loses it’s power on the world stage, so goes the rest of the top 30 countries. Wealth is not as important as health and happiness except to the elite and the wannabes.

  5. DC on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 1:33 am 

    You for that right Arthur! The free-ride amerika has had at the world expense vis-a-vis, dollar hegemony is really starting to show some cracks isnt it? Take out that and what does amerika bring to the world? Coka-cola, CGI movies and the worlds largest market for anti-depressant drugs. If not for dollar hegemony, my guess is the US would drop somewhere down to the 50s or so easily.

    As for the top 10, I can pick out 3 countries in there that have significant problems, even though, for the moment, they nominally ‘wealthy’. Both Canada and Australia are busy importing hordes of 3rd world economic migrants, have significant budget deficits and are busy converting natural resources(real wealth) into paper US dollars (faux wealth) just as fast as they can. IoW wealth liquidation is going on at breakneck speed in those 2 countries. Ireland is one of the PIGS! They still haven’t near recovered from the global ponzi meltdown of 08, and somehow still made top 10!


  6. ingeborgsjon on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 3:01 am 

    Arthur: Sweden has had much larger immigration than the US, about three times higher per capita.

    Denmark is also an oil exporter like Norway but a much smaller one…

  7. Whoknows on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 3:17 am 

    All these nations including Finland have huge private sector debt woes. Once deleveraging enters the scene, I wonder how households would ‘layoff’ members. We’re probably going to see ‘first world’ children trafficked much like what we see in Afghanistan and Iraq after the US invasions.

    This is the case, with or without immigration. Per capita (refugees per thousand citizens), the United States is much lower than those in the top ten barring Australia and New Zealand. On the other hand, Sweden, the Netherlands, et al have much higher intakes and yet appear far higher on the ranking.

    Migrants, in fact, that enter the US are more-or-less tame. A rather large number are educated Asians ( fastest growing demographic group, btw) and thus are a lot more safer to be around than the ill-equipped European counterpart. I may not share a common ethnic background with the segment, but socio-economically, we’re significantly closer. We’ll probably have to deal with thugs of all stripes in the coming emergency. I’ve seen mindless lumpen proletariats in numerous nations especially the first world.

    Mexicans, interestingly, in the US are much like Italian migrants in Germany who perform amongst the worst scholastically in the nation. I don’t think they’re the reason behind the poor American performance. African-Americans, who are another large non-‘white’ segment, are essentially Anglicized with a rather mild history. If you want a toxic history, just ask Jews and other minorities ( may exclude Muslims) in Europe about xenophobic Christian thugs. I don’t see IRA-like organization, Basque-level insurgencies, brutal civil wars of Italy, Spain, fascist elements of Greece vs militarized workers. Nothing like Islamic fundamentalists killing scores of innocent people. The Black Panthers, on the other hand, while influential were easily removed. That is why the Soviets didn’t bother backing the civil right movement.

    There is, in fact, a larger threat from white supremacists in US. I could see such an episode occurring considering KKK have actually attempted to stage a coup d’etat. That’s likely going to happen once the United States ends up balkanizing. Minorities such as African-Americans and socially mobile Asian Americans myay probably end up driven out of states. Mexicans, who are probably capable of staging a separatist revolt would do the same.

    As for Europe, I think the region is actually going to be the one hit quite hard. For one, we’re dealing with a region that has a war-like history. It has very little to do with Muslims. Just look at the continuous wars and when you belong to a minority community in that region, it’s even more striking. African-Americans and Mexican-Americans cannot be compared to the thugs behind the pogroms in the past or even today. Just add lack of energy security, increasing desertification in Southern Europe and it doesn’t look good. Denmark, Norway and a few others who have achieved energy security may survive, but we need to factor in global warming as well.

    The British are already preparing to shut down borders once hordes of migrants from the Mediterranean start flooding in. James Lovelock, an eminent independent scientist, has said that those in South-east Asia and Southern Europe will flooding the world. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing low density nations being invaded by hordes of refugees.

  8. Keith_McClary on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 4:12 am 

    The bottom 10 have a history of “help” from the imperial powers.

  9. Arthur on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 9:00 am 

    ingebogsjon, do not know about current swedish immigration rates, but you can easily verify that Sweden has 20% immigrants. Assuming that I can extrapolate Dutch figures on Sweden, it could mean that ca. 10% in Sweden is non-white. In the US it is officially 66-33, but some say it is more like 60-40. Officially more than 50% of the new borns in the US are non-white, which means that in less than 20 years time the US will no longer be a European civilization. Last week I rewatched Hitchcocks movie Birds, situated in California in the early sixties. What a stylish attractive world that was. Watch and weep.

  10. Arthur on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 9:22 am 

    “On the other hand, Sweden, the Netherlands, et al have much higher intakes and yet appear far higher on the ranking.”

    Absolutely not true. Holland does not take in many people anymore after massive resistance from the population in the past decade (Fortuyn, Wilders revolution). Unlike ten years ago political correctness has gone, and it is now perfectly OK to bash immigration publicly and many do. Of nearly 17 million people 1.8 million are non-western and 1.4 million western foreigners.

    “I don’t see IRA-like organization, Basque-level insurgencies, brutal civil wars of Italy, Spain, fascist elements of Greece vs militarized worker”

    Thats because the US has always been a country of plenty. Wait until the shtf (peakoil). Already the US is by far the most violent country with the largest prison population per capita in the world. It is true that Asians are the tamest but coloured crime is a factor of ten higher than white crime per capita. The police in Oslo recently confessed that nearly all rapes in Norway are carried out by muslims. Ah well, Algeria managed to kick all the French out, it will not be different the other way around.

  11. BillT on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 12:54 pm 

    Arthur, you are correct. When the millions of legal drug addicts cannot get their tranquilizers and have to face reality, the street wars will begin.

  12. Kenz300 on Wed, 31st Oct 2012 5:54 pm 

    Looks like countries with the highest birth rate are at the bottom of the list.

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