2013 Prosperity Index
The Prosperity Index is a definitive ranking of the world’s happiest and saddest countries. Compiled by the Legatum Institute, the Index combines “a mixture of traditional economic indicators alongside measurements of well-being and life satisfaction.” It covers 96% of the global population in its ranking of 142 countries, as well as 99% of global GDP.
Topping the list are Norway, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand, who enjoy plenty of opportunity, a good healthcare and education system, freedom, and peace. Less fortunate countries at the bottom of the list include Afghanistan, Chad, Congo, Central African Republic, and Yemen where war is prevalent, dictators rule, freedom of expression is restricted, and education lacking.
Norway has won the top spot of happiest country in 2013 for the fifth consecutive time, with outstanding scores in the economic and social capital categories.
The United States ranked 11th overall but for the first time fell out of the top 20 countries in the economic ranking, with New Zealand and South Korea taking her place. This could be a result of the country’s “quantitative easing” that has been affecting market conditions.
The UK came in at number 16 in the overall prosperity ranking, being overtaken by Austria and Germany who ranked 15th and 14th respectively. Iceland shot up the index to 13th position this year. Bangladesh, having improved in areas such as education and health care over the past few years came in above India for the first time at 103, three places above India.
Various changes in the rankings have been made over the five years that Legatum has been compiling the Prosperity Index. East Asia in particular has made huge advancements economically; China now ranks 7th which is an improvement of 27 places from the first Index. Europe as a whole has not seen much movement which is to be expected after the economic crisis. Denmark has fallen 18 places in the economic categories from 5th to 23rd.
The Prosperity Index scoring takes into account a diverse range of factors, including; personal freedom, public health, education, bureaucracy, economy, social capital, entrepreneurship, and safety. The measure of happiness then comes from condensing all of these aspects into a societal view as a whole. Although there has been some debate over the legitimacy of Legatum’s Prosperity Index because happiness is arguably subjective, overall the Index creates a well-rounded view of global prosperity in the contemporary world.