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The U.S. is not as “good” as Ireland according to new study

Yahoo Finance
Yahoo Finance

There are many metrics for measuring the “success” of a nation and comparing one country to another -- economic growth, education and even happiness. But a new index, developed by independent policy advisor Simon Anholt, tries to rank the “goodness” of nations around the globe. 

Yahoo Finance spoke with Anholt, who elaborated on the concept of ranking goodness.  He says, “I’m not really talking about moral goodness. I’m not talking about good as opposed to bad…. I mean good as opposed to selfish. A good country is a country that contributes more to humanity and to the good of the planet than another.” 

Anholt uses a wide variety of factors to determine the global influence and contributions of countries, including rankings in science and technology, international peace and security and health and well-being.  Altogether there are 7 different categories that are evaluated in order to come up with the final tallies.

Who comes out on top in terms of least selfish - or more “good'?  Ireland. It's followed by eight other European countries in the top 10 plus New Zealand, the only non-European nation in that group. According to the Good Country Index, New Zealand is very, very good.

Top ranked countries in the Good Country Index

1. Ireland
2. Finland
3. Switzerland
4. Netherlands
5. New Zealand

Anholt developed the rankings by amassing statistics from available and existing sources -- 35 data sets in all. "A lot of them come from the United Nations, the World Bank and other international agencies like that…. We ended up with 125 countries in the index. There are about another 70 that don’t provide enough information.” 

Why did he create the index? Anholt says he did it because he felt the existing metrics did not take into account the globalization effect and simply ranked countries based on what they do within their own borders. The Good Country Index takes into account the influence of a particular country on the world because “everything that every country does has endless impact on the rest of the world and nobody had ever measured that," says Anholt.
At the bottom of the list are many nations embroiled in political strife. Libya ranked last because as Anholt says in the attached video, “when this particular snapshot was taken … [Libya] really wasn’t in a position to look after its own citizens, let alone think of the rest of the world.” Other countries at the bottom of the index include Vietnam, Angola and Iraq.

Bottom ranked countries in the Good Country Index

125. Libya
124. Vietnam
123. Iraq
122. Azerbaijan
121. Angola

The United States earned a respectable ranking of 21 in the overall survey, which surprised some.  It  “caused a certain amount of unhappiness amongst a certain number of Americans who naturally believe the United States is the greatest benefactor to humanity,” says Anholt.  But the results don’t imply that the U.S. isn’t a major factor for good in the world.  Since the rankings are corrected for GDP, it gives smaller countries equal footing with larger ones. “The United States does a great deal more than the 21st position suggests,” Annholt clarifies.

The biggest surprise in the index? Kenya. It ranked in the top 30 despite being one of the poorest nations on the list.  For Anholt, the results were "a real high point…(showing) this isn’t about money. It is not just a situation of the richest countries having sufficient money and time and leisure to be able to think about the rest of the planet because if that’s the way we think, we’re doomed.”

Shibani Joshi is the creator of www.ShibaniOnTech.com and can be followed on Twitter @shibanijoshi

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