The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank has ranked 110 countries by prosperity, based on criteria that combined wealth, income and quality of life and many other variables, including public safety, personal freedom, social cohesion, governance, and quality of education.
“Most people would intuitively agree that ‘prosperity’ is not just about money but also about quality of life,” Legatum stated.
“The Index defines prosperity as both wealth and wellbeing, and finds that the most prosperous nations in the world are not necessarily those that have only a high GDP, but are those that also have happy, healthy, and free citizens.”
The ten most “prosperous” nations on earth, according to Legatum’s system, are dominated by Western Europe. The top ten in order are: Norway, Denmark, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden. Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands and the United States.
Interestingly, the U.S. (which is burdened by rising unemployment and increased political polarization) finished well ahead of such countries as U.K. (13), Austria (14), Germany (15), Belgium (16), Japan (18), and France (19).
The least prosperous countries are mostly in Africa, in nations characterized by high rates of poverty, social chaos and severe political repression.
The ten least prosperous countries (in order) are: Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Central African republic, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Yemen, Kenya, Mozambique, Cameroon, and Zambia.
The highest ranking emerging market country was Uruguay (28), which ranked higher than Hungary (34) and Greece (39).
China finished at 58, Brazil at 45, Russia at 63 and India at 88.