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Which Nations Are Most Prosperous?

Trying to ascertain the “best” country to live in can be problematic because of the number of factors that can be taken into account.

As seasoned expats and world travellers will have discovered, each country has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some have stronger economies, others weaker. Some have a low cost of living while others don’t. How do you boil all those elements down into a workable figure, in order to decide which countries offer global wanderers the very best lifestyle?

Fortunately the Legatum Institute has set out to do exactly that and recently published their findings. The goal of their research is to look at more than just GDP to decide how “prosperous” a nation is. They also wanted to look at other factors that can have a positive impact on one’s quality of life while living in such countries.

As a result the Prosperity Index factors in not just the income of residents, but also their well-being. In light of this, factors such as personal freedom, social capital and the standards of education were also taken into account to provide an overall ranking figure.

Now, thanks to the team at Legatum we can reveal those countries which statistically represent the best countries to live in.


Coming in top in this study comes Norway, for the seventh year in a row. In terms of wealth Norwegians earn generous salaries, but they also pay considerable taxes. Indeed the Norwegian economy is so strong that 56% of residents believe that this is a good time to look for a new job – something which very few other countries can match.

The taxes paid by expats and native Norwegians alike are used to maintain an impressive network of public facilities. In schools, for example, there is an average of one teacher to every ten pupils. This affords high levels of education and plenty of one-to-one assistance in the classroom.

Possibly most impressive of all however are just how community-spirited this Scandinavian nation really is. Over nine out of ten residents claim they can rely on others in times of need.


Switzerland has a rather more chequered past in such ranking tables. Just recently, for example, it was announced that Switzerland is no longer considered the best country in the world for expats, having suffered a precipitous decline in 2015.

That said, the strength of the economy and public services still mean that Switzerland ranks at position two in this particular study. This is a rise of seven positions since 2012.

Switzerland’s most impressive scores come in terms of governance, where they rank in first place. Locals believe strongly in the honesty, stability and powers of the Swiss government, and believe overwhelmingly that the government are doing an excellent job.


In third position this year comes Denmark, which has benefitted most strongly from its opportunities for entrepreneurship and personal advancement. Huge amounts of money are spent on research and development, and the costs of setting up a new business in Denmark are some of the lowest in the world. Education in Denmark is also rated highly, with 20% more people in Denmark believing that children have suitable opportunities for learning than the global average.

So what conclusions can we draw from these results? The most obvious such observation is that once again Scandinavia wins numerous plaudits; this is especially so when one considers that Sweden ranks at number five and Finland at number nine. It seems that Scandinavia really does represent the best area in the world for building wealth, starting a business and achieving a high quality of life.

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