World's most prosperous nations are in Europe

World's most prosperous nations are in Europe

4th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

The latest Legatum Prosperity Index has been released, with the old continent once more coming out on top but there are signs of potential weakness in domestic security and governance.

London – The third edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index ranks 104 countries (covering 90 percent 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.

“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 US in both economic measures as well as key quality of life measures.
The US outranks each of them on safety and security measures, which is somewhat surprising given public perceptions on the issue.

The UK lags behind the US 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 UK ranking 2nd globally behind the US.

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 UK, 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

Top 20 countries

1. Finland
2. Switzerland
3. Sweden
4. Denmark
5. Norway
6. Australia
7. Canada
8. Netherlands
9. United States
10. New Zealand
11. Ireland
12. United Kingdom
13. Belgium
14. Germany
15. Austria
16. Japan
17. France
18. Hong Kong
19. Spain
20. Slovenia

Rest of Europe

21. Italy
22. Portugal
25. Czech Republic
27. Hungary
29. Poland
30. Greece
31. Estonia
34. Slovakia
35. Croatia
37. Latvia
46. Bulgaria
48. Romania
61. Ukraine
69. Turkey
85. Belarus


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