The World’s Most Prosperous Nations are in Europe, Finds Legatum Prosperity Index; Finland is Top; The United Kingdom Ranks 12th, Ahead of Germany (14th) and France (17th)

By Prne, Gaea News Network
Sunday, October 25, 2009


- Despite High Concentration of World’s Most Prosperous Countries in Europe, Signs of Potential Weakness in Domestic Security and Governance

The third edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index, published today, ranks 104 countries (covering 90% of the world’s population), based on a definition of prosperity that combines economic growth together with measures of happiness and quality of life. Six of the top 10 countries in the 2009 Prosperity Index are located in Europe: Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

“The Legatum Prosperity Index is the world’s only global assessment of wealth and wellbeing. Once again, we see that Europe represents the highest concentration of the world’s most prosperous nations, thanks to an impressive blend of economic progress and good quality of life,” said Dr. William Inboden, Senior Vice President of the Legatum Institute. “But behind the positive headlines,” continued Dr. Inboden, “the main centres of European population and economic growth are showing signs of potential weakness in important areas such as domestic security and governance. The Legatum Prosperity Index shows that Europe’s future prosperity will be assured by balancing economic progress and wellbeing, through pro-growth policies, strong social networks, strong public safety, and innovative and entrepreneurial citizens.”

Comparing European nations to the US, ranked 9th, the Index finds that the United Kingdom (11th), Germany (14th), and France (17th) all trail the U.S. in both economic measures as well as key quality of life measures. The U.S. outranks each of them on safety and security measures, which is somewhat surprising given public perceptions on the issue. The U.K. lags behind the U.S. in education and personal freedom, Germany in economic fundamentals and the impact of its government on economic growth, and France on social capital. All three countries turn in comparatively high ranks on entrepreneurship and innovation; with the U.K. ranking 2nd globally behind the U.S. Finland is ranked first on the collective measures of wellbeing.

Key Findings from the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index

- Northern Europe dominates the top five spots in the Index: Finland (1st), Sweden (3rd), Denmark (4th), and Norway (5th). - Slovenia (20th), the Czech Republic (25th), Hungary (28th), and Poland (29th) constitute the Eastern European countries that made the top third of the Index. Slovenia was propelled to its position through its performance on education, security, and its government’s capacity for fostering economic growth. The Czech Republic achieved its final ranking by outscoring other Eastern European countries in personal freedom and its population’s overall physical health. - Romania is the lowest ranked European Union country at 47th, and Belarus, at 85th, is the lowest-ranked European nation overall. - The current European Union candidate countries rank as follows: Croatia (35th), Macedonia (59th), and Turkey (69th). - With only one exception, each of the top six nations ranks in the top 20 of all nine areas of prosperity. The remaining 4 countries in the top ten - Australia, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand - are all European heirs and generally enjoy similarly balanced top tier performance. - Northern European nations, on average, perform better on measures related to quality of life than to economic wellbeing, and Eastern European nations perform better, without exception, on measures related to economic wellbeing than to quality of life. - The top five most entrepreneurial and innovative countries in Europe are, in order of rank, the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. - The five European countries whose governments contribute the most to the overall life satisfaction of their citizens are, in order of rank, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway. - The top five European countries ranked by overall performance in the Prosperity Index’s four economic sub-indexes, in order of rank, are Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium. - All five of the top countries ranked by overall performance in the Prosperity Index’s five quality of life sub-indexes are in Europe. They are, in order of rank: Finland, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. - Four of the world’s largest 25 countries are located in Europe, excluding Turkey. In order of population size, they are: Germany (14th), France (17th), the U.K. (12th), and Italy (21st).

The Index identified nine key factors that drive economic growth and personal wellbeing, which are foundations of prosperity. Each of these nine factors is represented in a sub-index and a country’s final Prosperity Index ranking is generated by averaging its scores across all nine sub-indexes, equally weighted. More information on the Prosperity Index, including full country rankings, background on data and methodology, and profiles of each country can be found at

Notes to Editors:

About the Legatum Prosperity Index

The 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index is based on statistical analysis of more than 40 years of data for more than 100 countries worldwide, produced and supervised by the Legatum Institute, with input from the research consultancy Oxford Analytica and a panel of respected academic advisors in the fields of economics, history, development, sociology, and political science.

2009 Legatum Prosperity Index Rankings

TOP TWENTY COUNTRIES REST OF EUROPE 1. Finland 21. Italy 2. Switzerland 22. Portugal 3. Sweden 25. Czech Republic 4. Denmark 27. Hungary 5. Norway 29. Poland 6. Australia 30. Greece 7. Canada 31. Estonia 8. Netherlands 34. Slovakia 9. United States 35. Croatia 10. New Zealand 37. Latvia 11. Ireland 46. Bulgaria 12. United Kingdom 48. Romania 13. Belgium 61. Ukraine 14. Germany 69. Turkey 15. Austria 85. Belarus 16. Japan 17. France 18. Hong Kong 19. Spain 20. Slovenia BOTTOM TEN COUNTRIES 95. Kenya 96. Algeria 97. Tanzania 98. Nigeria 99. Pakistan 100. Cameroon 101. Central African Republic 102. Yemen 103. Sudan 104. Zimbabwe

How the index is constructed

The Prosperity Index accounts for 90 percent of the world’s population, using a combination of objective data and subjective responses to surveys. This data comprises 79 different variables, and each is then distilled into one of the nine different sub-indexes identified as a foundation of prosperity. A country’s performance in each sub-index is given a score, and the overall Prosperity Index rankings are produced by averaging the equally-weighted scores of the 9 sub-indexes for each country. Those countries that perform well across each sub-index score highest in the overall rankings.

The foundations of prosperity that define successful nations include:

- Economic Fundamentals - a growing, sound economy that provides opportunities for wealth creation - Entrepreneurship and Innovation - an environment friendly to new enterprises and the commercialisation of new ideas - Education - an accessible, high-quality educational system that fosters human development - Democratic Institutions - transparent and accountable governing institutions that promote economic growth - Governance - an honest and effective government that preserves order and encourages productive citizenship - Health - the physical well-being of the populace - Personal Freedom - the degree to which individuals can choose the course of their lives - Security - a safe environment in which people can pursue Opportunity - Social Capital - trustworthiness in relationships and strong communities

About the Legatum Institute

The Legatum Institute is an independent policy, advocacy and advisory organisation. The Institute’s mission is to research and promote the principles that drive the creation of global prosperity and the expansion of human liberty and wellbeing. For more information about the Legatum Institute, please visit

The Institute is part of the Legatum Group, a private global investment organization focused on investing in the international capital markets and the promotion of sustainable development.

For more information about the Legatum Group, please visit

Media Enquiries London William Inboden, Legatum Institute Telephone: +44-20-7148-5400 Nick Wood, Media Intelligence Partners Telephone +44-20-3008-8146 Email: Dubai, UAE Hamish Banks, Legatum Telephone: +971-4-317-5800 Email: Nicole Anwer, Legatum Telephone: +971-4 317-5800 Email: New York Michael Iacovella, Edelman Telephone +1-212-704-8254 Email: Mumbai Arwa Husain, Adfactors PR Telephone +91-22-2281-3565 Email:

Source: Legatum

Media Enquiries: London, William Inboden, Legatum Institute, Telephone: +44-20-7148-5400, william.inboden at Nick Wood, Media Intelligence Partners, Telephone +44-20-3008-8146, Email: nickwood at Dubai, UAE, Hamish Banks, Legatum, Telephone: +971-4-317-5800, Email: hamish.banks at Nicole Anwer, Legatum, Telephone: +971-4 317-5800, Email: nicole.anwer at New York, Michael Iacovella, Edelman, Telephone +1-212-704-8254, Email: michael.iacovella. at Mumbai, Arwa Husain, Adfactors PR, Telephone +91-22-2281-3565, Email: arwa.husain at

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