Global Prosperity on the Rise Despite Financial Crisis

Despite the troubles that have followed the recession in 2008, global prosperity is on the rise since 2009, and for the third year, the U.S. has ranked at number 10. The Legatum Prosperity Index assessed 110 countries, which accounts for more than 93% of the world’s population.

The index defined prosperity as both wealth and wellbeing, with Norway taking the top spot for the third year.

Green represents the top 30 countries. Yellow is the middle 50. Red is the bottom 30. The gray countries had insufficient data.

The Index judged prosperity based on performance in eight sub-indices: economy; entrepreneurship and opportunity; governance; education; health; safety and security; personal freedom; and social capital.

“We want to assess the long term drivers of prosperity,” Jeffrey Gedmin, president and chief executive officer of the Legatum Institute, said in a statement. “The Prosperity Index is designed to be a practical tool for researchers, policy makers, media and the interested public. We hope this year’s findings will contribute to the conversation about what makes societies healthy and successful.”

While the United States’ rankings in individual sub-indices was sometimes less-than-desirable landing the country at 18 in economy and 26 for safety and security, the nation took the top spot for health.

“High government health expenditure leads to improved health outcomes in the United States,” according to the Index report.

Citizens have a high life expectancy and below average rates of infant mortality and undernourishment. The government spends the most on health expenditures per capita in the world, which leads to above average rates of immunizations. Plus, a high 86% of people surveyed were content with their personal health in 2010.

The same contentment does not extend to America’s economy. The population had below average expectations for future economic growth and job availability. The 9% unemployment rate ranked the country 79 in the world. Just as disconcerting, in the aftermath of the recession, the low level of gross domestic savings places the country in the bottom 25 globally.

Since 2009, prosperity decreased in only 23 countries. For the most part the top 10 countries have remained unchanged over the last three years. Italy is one of the few countries whose score dropped since last year.

In fact, the biggest changes to rankings occurred in the bottom half of the list. For instance, since 2009, the largest increase in prosperity ranking was Indonesia, ranked 70 this year. The largest decrease was a tie between Nicaragua (ranked 86) and India (ranked 91).

Although there have been improved scores in Sub-Saharan African countries, they make up eight of the bottom 10.

Top 10
1. Norway
2. Denmark

3. Australia

4. New Zealand

5. Sweden

6. Canada

7. Finland

8. Switzerland

9. Netherlands

10. United States

Bottom 10
101. Zambia
102. Kenya

103. Mozambique

104. Nigeria

105. Sudan

106. Yemen

107. Pakistan

108. Ethiopia

109. Zimbabwe

110. Central African Republic