'Goodest Country on Earth': Sweden tops Anholt Index

3 June 2016

Rebecca Martin

Sweden has been established as the ‘goodest’ country on earth, relative to the size of its economy. The country has taken pole position in the Good Country Index, outranking 162 other countries in a league table based on 35 separate indicators from sources including the United Nations, the World Bank and other international organisations. 

"This is of course a wonderful result for Sweden and indeed the whole of Europe: whether a country ranks #1 or #20, it means that it is a major net contributor to the rest of humanity outside its own borders, and that's something to be really proud of. If I were a Swede, I think I would consider our positive impact on the world to be just as important as our domestic success, if not more so: we live in a connected world, and collaboration is the new law of survival, " Index instigator professor Simon Anholt tells SCC Focus. 

The only study of its kind, the Good Country Index measures what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity and what it takes away instead of measuring country performance in isolation. The Index is the brainchild of Anholt, an Independent Advisor who has worked with the Heads of State and Governments of more than fifty countries. His aim is “to find ways of encouraging countries to collaborate and co-operate a lot more, and compete a bit less.”

Through the Index, Anholt aims to further this goal by stimulating a global discussion on how countries can balance duty to their populace with responsibility to the wider world. He argues this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of the planet, and with the Brexit vote soon, his timing couldn’t be more fortuitous.

The global impact of each country is measured across seven categories, with five individual indicators in each category (the full data for both editions of the Index is available at www.good.country).

Explaining the Index, Anholt says “A Good Country is one that successfully contributes to the good of humanity. Of course it must serve the interests of its own people, but never at the expense of other populations or their natural resources: this is the new law of human survival, and it’s a balance which is far more easily maintained than many people imagine. Working together makes for better policy than working alone.”

“This upgraded and updated edition of the Index puts Sweden in first place because, relative to the size of its economy, it simply does more ‘good’ and less harm than any other country on earth. However it’s important to note that the performance of smaller countries in the Index tends to be more volatile: this is unavoidable as events naturally make a bigger difference to smaller countries. This partly explains why Ireland, Kenya, Iceland and Costa Rica have experienced significant drops in ranking.”

“Most of our problems are rapidly and dangerously multiplying because of globalisation. We need our governments to understand that they’re not just responsible for their own voters and taxpayers, but for every living thing on the planet. They must collaborate and cooperate more, not less; the UK, for example, isn’t just an island unconnected to the rest of Europe or to the rest of the world. Just like every other country on earth, it is part of one system. If it fails, we all fail.”

Despite the addition of 38 countries since the first edition of the index, Libya has once again ranked last.


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