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rank way of life living standard
spot (3) index (2) consecutive
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climb witness in terms of
decline major (3) respectively
end up



Once again, the Nordic countries have grabbed the top spots on the Prosperity Index, a ranking of 142 countries in terms of their living standard and way of life.

For the seventh consecutive year, Norway came in first place. Denmark and Sweden came in third and fifth, while Finland and Iceland ranked ninth and 12th.

The Legatum Institute

The index is compiled annually by the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank.

It takes into account eight sub-indexes for each country: 1) their economy; 2) entrepreneurship and opportunity; 3) governance; 4) education; 5) health; 6) safety and security; 7) personal freedom; and 8) social capital.

These in turn are further divided into 89 sub-categories.

According to the Legatum Institute, Norway scored the highest in many factors, including “trust in others,” “satisfaction with freedom of choice,” “civil liberty and free choice” and “satisfaction with standard of living.”

Income Vs. Prosperity

Many people equate “prosperity” with economic success. However, it is just one component in the broader picture.

“The way we’ve traditionally measured how successful countries are is too narrow,” said the Prosperity Index’s program director, Nathan Gamester. “Of course wealth is important but it doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Economy-wise, the Scandinavian nations haven’t been doing as well as many other advanced countries. In fact, Norway, Sweden and Finland have all seen their economic rankings slip in recent years.

Rich Economies

And even though Singapore had the world’s strongest ranked economy, and made it into the top 15 for five other sub-indexes, it did not perform well in personal freedom and social capital — and thus ended up 17th overall in the Prosperity Index.

China came third in terms of economy — but remained 52nd place in the overall ranking.

It came in 100th place on safety and security, and 120th on personal freedom.

Most Improved

Indonesia has been the index’s biggest success story. The nation has over the past seven years, climbed from 90th to 69th position — 21 places, the biggest “jump” on the list.

More Dangerous

Another finding is that parts of the world have become more dangerous since the survey was first carried out in 2009.

Africa and the Middle East have witnessed major decline in the safety and security sub-index.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Syria were named the most dangerous places in the world. Their overall prosperity rankings are 137th, 141st and 136th respectively.

Hong Kong was hailed as the safest place in the world for the third year in a row.

10 most prosperous countries

Norway has been ranked once again as the world’s most prosperous country.
1. Norway
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. New Zealand
4. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Australia
8. Netherlands
9. Finland
10. Ireland

10 least prosperous countries

Central African Republic is ranked the least prosperous country.

142. Central African Republic
141. Afghanistan
140. Haiti
139. Chad
138. Burundi
137. Democratic Republic of the Congo
136. Syria
135. Yemen
134. Sudan
133. Angola

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1. Scandinavian countries rankings have fluctuated, just like in sports competition. Is this correct or wrong?

2. Who conducted the index? Is the institute based in Stockholm or Oslo?

3. The Prosperity Index is based mainly on economic prosperity. True or false? How many factors and variables are there?

4. Do Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have the highest economic growth and per gross domestic product per capita?

5. What does the index say about Asian countries (China and Singapore)?

6. Is Norway considered the greatest “success story”?

7. There is more peace and development all over the world. Yes or no?


A. Can any generalizations be made about the rankings?

B. Would you (or your friends) like to live in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden or New Zealand?

C. Why do you suppose (northern European) nations are so “prosperous”?

D. Why are other countries so “messed up”?

E. How can other countries increase their prosperity?

F. What will happen in the future?


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