Switzerland, Canada and Japan maintain their dominance in the overall 2020 Best Countries Report, a ranking and analysis project by US News and World Report, BAV Group and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. This year, the project evaluated the perceptions of 73 nations across a range of categories, from economic influence and military might to education and quality of life, to determine which countries wield the most influence on a global scale.
“The Best Countries analysis taps into US News’ decades-long expertise in supplementing data with in-depth journalism,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at US News. “By collaborating with leaders in data and academia, we’re able to help thought leaders, business decision makers, policy makers and citizens understand how perceptions impact their country’s standing in the world.”
Key themes from the 2020 Best Countries report include:
- Switzerland stays on top overall. Canada moves up to No. 2, and Japan is No. 3. Rounding out the top 5 are Germany and Australia. The U.K. comes in at No. 6, and the U.S. rose one spot to No. 7.
- Respondents paint a bleak picture when asked about nations’ trustworthiness. While the US is perceived as the most powerful country in the world, data shows it is not perceived as very trustworthy. Canada is perceived as the most trustworthy country, and has been since the first Best Countries report in 2016. During that same time, perceptions of the US as being trustworthy have steadily dropped to a record-low of 16.3 on a 100-point scale. The UK also fell in this attribute, while Greece, South Korea and Spain improved.
- There is a global consensus about the effect of climate change. Most respondents (87%) agree that climate change is real. Of the 36 countries surveyed, people in Russia agreed about climate change the least (71%), and Indonesia agreed the most (97%) along with African nations including Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. But only 60% of respondents agree their country is effectively addressing its effects.
- Global anxiety about technology persists. Nearly three out of four people (74%) think large technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon should be limited, and about the same number agree that technology is displacing jobs. The UK, Canada and Australia agree most with limiting large technology corporations. In Japan, which is perceived as a technology powerhouse, just 31.5% agree that technology is displacing jobs and 55% agree that big tech should be limited.
- Gender equality is viewed favourably, but there is a gap between perception and reality. Ninety percent of respondents agree that women should be entitled to the same rights as men. However, when asked whether women actually do have the same economic opportunities as men in their countries, only 64% of respondents agreed. A little more than two out of three people (69%) said they view traditional gender roles as important to a functioning society, and that perception is similar between men (73%) and women (66%).
"This year’s Best Countries rankings continue to show us human rights, diversity, sustainability and free trade are all top of mind for many worldwide, connecting us together. These fundamental topics are vital to a nation's brand strength and reflect how the quality of life can have a dramatic influence on global perception," said Michael Sussman, CEO, BAV Group.
In addition to the overall rankings, the report also includes:
- 23 subrankings and 'best of' lists
- The second-annual Origin Index, in which respondents were asked to pick the countries they would prefer to buy goods from as a measure of each country’s brand power.
- Articles examining gender and wage inequality, how technology is stirring anxieties over privacy and job loss, and concerns about the impact of climate change and how governments are seen to be responding.
The 2020 Best Countries rankings methodology uses data gathered from a proprietary survey of more than 20,000 business leaders; college educated individuals that are middle class or higher; and general citizens who are nationally representative of their country. “The goal of the Best Countries report is to understand how global perceptions are related to investment, foreign trade and tourism of a nation,” said David Reibstein, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.
The Best Countries project includes in-depth news articles, an interactive data explorer, video, photos and commentary from global experts in government, business and academia. It is part of US News’ Government Rankings initiative, which measures government performance at the international, state and local levels and includes the Best States, Healthiest Communities and Cities projects.
To view the full rankings and search country profiles, visit here
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