Prosperity Index: A Tool to Build True Prosperity
The infographic above maps the 30 most and least prosperous countries and regions, pulling the rankings from the Legatum Prosperity Index. The Legatum Institute, a British think tank, developed the index to help identify which aspects of prosperity are more or less developed within a nation to build prosperity.
It ranks 167 countries across 7 regions, which accounts for 99.4% of the world’s population. According to Legatum, prosperity covers three domains: inclusive societies, open economies, and empowered people. Each domain consists of 4 pillars of prosperity:
- Safety and Security measures the degree to which war, conflict, and crime destabilized the security of individuals
- Personal Freedom measures progress towards basic legal rights, individual liberties and social tolerance
- Governance measures checks and restraints on power, as well as effectivity and corruption of governments
- Social Capital measures strength of personal and social relationships, institutional trust, social norms and civic participation
- Investment Environment measures protection and accessibility of investment
- Enterprise Conditions measures the extent to which regulations enable businesses to start, compete, and expand
- Infrastructure and Market Access measures the quality of infrastructure and distortions in the market
- Economic Quality measures readiness for wealth generation and for full engagement of workforce
- Living Conditions measures the degree to which a reasonable life is experienced by all
- Health measures the extent to which people are healthy and have access to the necessary services to maintain health
- Education measures enrolment, outcomes, and quality of education as well as the skills in the adult population
- Natural Environment measures the physical environment directly affecting people and environmental changes that may impact future prosperity
These pillars are built upon 67 actionable elements, underpinned by 300 indicators that use a variety of public data sources.
Nordic Countries Top the Rankings
The top four went to the Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Although the other Nordic country, Iceland came 10th, these Scandinavian countries are the regulars at the top of many social and welfare status rankings. For example, they led the rankings in Global Gender Gap Index 2021, Economic Transformation Readiness, and Best Countries to Retire in 2021.
There are 20 countries in the Western Europe including these Nordic countries. 17 out of the 20 made the list of the top 30. Those who didn’t make the list were: Italy (31st), Cyprus (34th), and Greece (43rd).
New Zealand and Singapore Lead the Asia-Pacific Region
Asia-Pacific includes more than half of the world’s population, with areas stretching from east to west, south to north. As a result, the region experienced a lot more differences in terms of the level of prosperity.
Out of the 29 countries in the region, 7 were among the 30 most prosperous countries. These were New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan (China), and South Korea.
On the other hand, 2 were among the 30 least prosperous countries: Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is worth noting that Pakistan hit the bottom for Natural Environment while Afghanistan did so for Social Capital.
The most outstanding outliers in the region appeared in Japan and South Korea. Although both the countries were ranked relatively higher for most of the pillars with exceedingly well-developed Health, Social Capital was extremely less developed in both the countries (143th for Japan, 147th for South Korea).
North America Was the Most Prosperous Region
North America consists of only two countries, Canada (15th) and the United States (20th). Although neither of the two achieved the first place in any of the prosperity pillars, the region was the most prosperous overall.
Canada’s strength was Education (5th). The country ranked among the first quartile (1 to 42) for all the pillars.
The United States took the 4th place for Enterprise Conditions as well as Infrastructure and Market Access. However, the US observed two abnormalities for Safety and Security (69th) and Health (68th).
Sub-Sahara Africa Was the Least Prosperous Region
In contrast, Sub-Sahara Africa includes the largest number of countries. Out of the 49 countries in the region, 22 countries made the list of the bottom 30 of the Prosperity Index.
One of the outliers in the region was Safety and Security in Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau was overall at 150th. However, the country took the 46th place for Safety and Security, which means it is safer in Guinea-Bissau than in the United States that appeared much above in the overall rankings.
Another interesting outlier was Social Capital in Niger. Overall, Niger was just above Guinea Bissau at 148th. Fortunately, Social Capital in the country is fairly well developed, ranking at 47th.
True Prosperity: When Everyone Has the Opportunity to Thrive
Conclusively, peace seems to be the ultimate condition for prosperity—many of the least prosperous countries have been at war or civil conflicts in recent years. Prolonged conflicts deteriorate not only governments systems but also philanthropic behavior in the country. Each country has its own problem, but when it comes to prosperity, one cannot be egocentric. Or one cannot just aspire to become Denmark.
True prosperity means everyone has the opportunity to thrive by fulfilling their unique potential and playing their part in strengthening their communities and nations. Because ultimately, prosperity is not just about what we have; it is also about who we become.
–The Legatum Prosperity Index