From power and economic influence to citizenship and quality of life, the 2017 Best Countries report captures how nations are perceived on a global scale. Now in its second year, the joint rankings and analysis project from U.S. News & World Report, Y&R’s BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, debuted Switzerland as the best country in the world. Canada, the UK, Germany, and Japan also topped the list, while the U.S. dropped to #7.
The 2017 Best Countries ranking methodology relies on data gathered from a proprietary perception survey – conducted after the U.S. presidential election – of more than 21,000 business leaders, informed elites and general citizens. The portal pairs fact-based metrics with storytelling to help citizens, business leaders, and governments better evaluate their countries and make sense of a range of important global issues.
“The Best Countries project allows us to chart how global perceptions of a country affect its prosperity,” said David Reibstein, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School. “We’ve learned that a focus on education and citizenship – including human rights, gender equality, religious freedom and more – can drive prosperity more than traditional forms of power, like military prowess. Our data captured widespread global concern for the social and geopolitical changes that cast many nations into uncertainty and turmoil. The new rankings reflect people’s desire to restore some sense of order by rewarding nations they perceive as championing neutrality, stability, and diplomacy,” added John Gerzema, chairman, and CEO of Y&R’s BAV Consulting.
The Best Countries project allows us to chart how global perceptions of a country affect its prosperity. Our data captured widespread global concern for the social and geopolitical changes that cast many nations into uncertainty and turmoil. The new rankings reflect people’s desire to restore some sense of order by rewarding nations they perceive as championing neutrality, stability, and diplomacy.
Below are some key findings from the 2017 Best Countries Report:
- Worldwide civil and political unrest in 2016 had varying effects on the Best Overall Countries. Canada remained No. 2 on the list. The U.K. held fast to its third-place position, suggesting that the initial shock of its vote to leave the European Union may have stabilized. Germany, last year’s No. 1 best overall country, slipped to No. 4 after dips in three important categories: open for business, citizenship, and quality of life. The nation was rocked by a range of events – from growing public anxiety over an influx of refugees to a string of deadly terror attacks.
- Japan moved up two positions to No. 5 this year, speaking to its stability. The nation scores in the top 10 for categories including entrepreneurship, up-and-coming economies, and countries with the most cultural influence.
- The U.S. fell three positions to No. 7. The nation ranked lower across multiple categories, including best for business, citizenship, adventure tourism, education, transparency and headquartering a corporation. While nearly 75 percent of survey respondents said they lost some respect for U.S. leadership after the 2016 presidential election, the U.S. remained No. 1 on the list of most powerful countries, closely followed by Russia at No. 2.
- Nordic nations – known for their forward-looking social and environmental policies – continue to dominate the rankings, with Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark in the top 15 overall. Sweden is named the best country for women, for raising children and for green living.
- Countries in Asia and the Middle East have the most up-and-coming economies, with the United Arab Emirates ranked No. 1. Thailand remains No. 1 for starting a business, and Malaysia is the best to invest in.
- Switzerland is the best to headquarter a corporation, and New Zealand is the best for retirement. Panama is the most business-friendly nation, while Canada takes the top spots for education and quality of life. Italy again ranks as the nation with the richest tradition and Brazil is the No. 1 country to visit.
2017 Best Countries Rankings
*See the full rankings here
3. United Kingdom
7. United States
To Headquarter a Corporation
1. The United States
2. United Kingdom
For Comfortable Retirement
1. New Zealand
The Best Countries rankings are the centerpiece of the growing U.S. News Best Countries portal, a platform combining in-depth editorial content, interactive data visualization tools, video, photos and op-eds from global experts in government, business, and academia. The new platform is part of the expanding News channel at U.S. News, which includes the new Best States project, unveiled in February.