And the country of 2017 is….

Switzerland!

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given the nation’s low unemployment, highly skilled labour force, secretive banking sector and one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world. Moreover, Switzerland’s cultural contributions far exceed its geographical size, with Swiss citizens having been awarded more Nobel Prizes and registered more patents per capita than any other nation. Neutrality in times of war has also enticed some of the world’s greatest minds to immigrate, including James Joyce, George Byron and Voltaire.

The ‘2017 Best Countries’ report and rankings are focused on how global perceptions define countries out of a set of 65 attributes that are then grouped into a set of 9 rankings. These are rankings that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment, whilst having a direct impact on national economies. They include: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life. A country’s overall score reflects the weighted sum of its subranking scores. To determine the weight of each subranking score overall, each category was correlated to 2014 GDP product purchasing power parity per capita. Categories were weighted more heavily if they had a stronger relationship with the wealth metric.

More 21,000 participants took part in the ranking survey. Regardless of demographics or participant type, each individual’s responses weighed equally in the results. Individuals were broadly representative of the global population under three categories: informed elites, business decision makers and the general public (adults of at least 18 years old). Participants rated how closely they associated with an attribute of a nation. The more a country was felt to display a certain characteristic in relation to the average, the higher that country’s score.

Applicants for PPE, Economics and Management and HSPS may wish to consider the criteria against which we judge a country’s status in the world. How wide a pool of participants should be questioned and across how wide a demographic? Should happiness be weighted more highly than economic growth? What about environmental factors? Could we draw more from measures used when assessing Gross Domestic Happiness, where each country is also compared against a hypothetical dystopia, which represents the lowest national averages for each key variable?

More Resources