The world’s best countries

Earlier today, The Economist declared Somalia the unfortunate winner of the British newsmagazine’s ultimate booby prize — The Worst Country on Earth. Previous winners Afghanistan and Turkmenistan would undoubtedly have been relieved to be rid of the title if they weren’t preoccupied with all their other problems.

At the same time, The Economist’s writers put out a challenge to readers to nominate the best country on Earth.

Naturally, I’d be inclined to nominate Canada — but I decided instead to open up a spreadsheet and do a quick calculation of where the 20 highest ranking nations in the latest United Nations Human Development Index stood in three other widely consulted indicators of good government: Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development’s World Competitiveness Scoreboard and Vision of Humanity’s Global Peace Index.

There are three things I should note here. First, I was forced to drop Iceland and Liechtenstein because of incomplete information. Second, in the Human Development Index rankings, I treated two countries with the same raw score as being tied, which is something the Wikipedia article does not do. Third, countries that did not finish in the Human Development Index Top 20 were excluded as not meeting a vital minimum standard for being considered as one of the world’s 10 best-run countries.

I calculated each country’s average ranking across the four indexes. Wherever there was a tie, I used each country’s worst score — its weakest link — as the tie-breaker. As the countries were ranked from best to worst, the closer a country’s average ranking came to ‘1’, the better.

Keep in mind that this is just for fun, and something I had no intention of working all night on — other people might have other methodologies and criticisms of this one.

Without any further ado, here is a countdown of the world’s ten best-run countries.


#10 -- Luxembourg, average rank 11.5 (Copyright © Albert Nagy; from Panoramio)

The Netherlands

#9 -- The Netherlands; average rank 11.0 (Copyright © yo-rafael; from Panoramio)

New Zealand

#8 -- New Zealand; average rank 9.25 (Copyright © funtor; from Panoramio)


#7 -- Australia, average rank 9.0 (Copyright © Daniel Meyer; from Panoramio)


#6 -- Switzerland, average rank 9.0 (Copyright © wx; from Panoramio)


#5 -- Finland, average rank 9.0 (Copyright © picsonthemove; from Panoramio)


#4 -- Canada (yay!), average rank 7.0 (Copyright © Lukas Novak; from Panoramio)


#3 -- Norway, average rank 6.25 (Copyright © Matthew Walters; from Panoramio)


#2 -- Denmark, average rank 5.75 (Copyright © KWO Tsoumenis; from Panoramio)

And now the grand prize winner as the world’s best-run country:


#1 -- Sweden, average rank 5.5 (Copyright © Adam Salwanowicz; from Panoramio)

The others:

11. Japan (12.5)
12. Ireland (12.5)
13. Austria (12.75)
14. Belgium (18.75)
15. France (22.5)
16. Spain (28.25)
17. United States (29.00)
18. Italy (41.75)


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

4 Responses to The world’s best countries

  1. cherenkov says:

    Impressive showing by the Scandanavian countries..

  2. theviewfromseven says:

    I agree. The Scandinavians seem to be the gold standard when it comes to running a country well. Canada, at #4, is also in good shape.

    The distribution is interesting, too:

    – The four Nordic/Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland)
    – Two of the three Low Countries (Netherlands, Luxembourg; though not Belgium)
    – The three ‘senior’ former British colonies (Canada, Australia, N.Z.; though the U.K. itself didn’t make the cut)
    – Switzerland

  3. Kat says:

    After the dismal results of yesterday’s provincial election, I’d bump Canada down a few notches and I live in Canada.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Wow, u helped me so much which this article. I agree that these are the ten best places in the world too(it depends on how you see it) I’m so happy that Canada is in the standings at least!!👍🏻

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