Economy / Feature / News

The World’s “Goodest” Country

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The Good Country Index placed Sweden on top of a list of the world’s “goodest” countries last week, but how exactly has this been determined?


Alexander Brett

Scandinavia must be bored of constantly coming top of worldwide surveys for well-being. Norway is officially the world’s happiest country this year, taking over from Denmark last year, and every Nordic nation is in the top ten.

Now, ranking 163 nations by their contribution to the global community in terms of prosperity, well-being, health and equality, the Good County Index, an invention of policy advisor Simon Anholt, has announced that Sweden is the world’s “goodest” country, followed by its neighbour Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. Bottom of the list are Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea and Libya.

But what exactly constitutes a “good” country?

While each separate factor in determining the overall result may be easy to measure, as perhaps is a country’s happiness, putting each factor together surely achieves a result that is far too superficial.

It seems Sweden won the prize purely from its insistence on human rights at home and abroad, regularly sending doctors and resources to assist in foreign health crises. Its score in the International Peace and Security category, however, puts it a mere 52nd due to heavy arms exports.

But Anholt doesn’t see this disparity in results as a flaw in his system. Rather, he says, the fact that Sweden scored badly in one category but still reached the top position overall “illuminates the fact that instead of competing against one another, each country should recognise that none of them are completely perfect and they can learn all from one another.”


“Each country should recognise that none of them are completely perfect and they can all learn from one another”


“Sweden could teach the United States a thing or two about equality for example, after the USA came 21st in that category,” he says, “but South Africa, which scored relatively badly in most categories, could teach Sweden to steer away from the arms trade after it came first in the International Peace and Security category.”

According to Anholt a good country is one that “successfully contributes to the good of humanity; serving the interests of its own people, but never at the expense of other populations or their natural resources.”

The results are of course taken relative the size of the country’s economy, with data extracted from the World Bank and United Nations, but smaller countries such as Iceland, Ireland and Kenya have all scored worse than expected as worldwide events make a larger impact on nations with smaller economies.

But even if the results are not entirely accurate, who cares. As Anholt says, they merely act to show that no nation is perfect, and no country should think they are; they are all flawed, but should learn from each other the means of changing this.


 

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