For the second consecutive year, Switzerland tops the overall list of the World’s Best Countries, a rankings and analysis project by US News & World Report; global marketing and communications services company WPP; and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
This is the sixth time that Switzerland has claimed the No 1 spot, having held it from 2017 to 2020. It scored particularly well in the entrepreneurship, quality of life, open for business and social purpose subrankings. Canada moved up a position to No 2, Sweden climbed two spots to No 3 and Australia jumped three spots to land at No 4. Rounding out the top 5 is the United States, which fell one spot and saw its largest decline in the open for business subranking.
Japan – 6; Germany – 7; New Zealand -8; United Kingdom – 9 and Netherlands -10 are the other nations on the top 10 list. New Zealand and the Netherlands returned to the top 10 after a year’s absence.
In sub-ranking Movers, the UAE tops the ranking, while Qatar and Egypt take the second and third spots. The UAE is 19th in the overall ranking and is the highest ranked Middle East country.
The United States, China and Russia are seen as the most powerful nations in the world, according to the study.
Now in its eighth year, the 2023 Best Countries analysis evaluates 87 countries across 73 attributes, using a methodology developed by WPP’s BAV, the company’s proprietary brand analytics tool. Attributes are grouped into 10 subrankings, ranging from entrepreneurship and quality of life to power and heritage. Entrepreneurship is the most heavily weighted subranking this year, as determined by the most recent gross domestic product per capita data.
“A nation’s economy, as well as its potential for success in key areas such as trade, travel and investment, hinges in part on how it is perceived globally,” said Morgan Felchner, US News Executive Editor, News and events. “The 2023 Best Countries rankings and report examine these perceptions as they relate to several qualitative characteristics, giving policymakers and residents of various nations a helpful glimpse into their country’s perceived value.”
Key themes from the 2023 Best Countries Survey and Report:
As the world experiences record-breaking temperatures, most agree on the impact of climate change. 88% of respondents agreed to some extent with the statement, “The effects of climate change are real,” while 71% agreed with the statement, “I am willing to make financial sacrifices to address climate change.”
In the US and Sweden, fewer consider universal healthcare a human right. Outside of the United States, the only country that saw less than 85 per cent agreement that universal healthcare is a human right was Sweden (83 per cent), which is perceived as having the No 1 well-developed public health system and to be the most health-conscious of all countries included in the survey.
Inflation remains a global concern. Against the backdrop of many countries grappling with high inflation rates over the past year, 84 per cent of respondents believe inflation will continue to get worse – although that share is down slightly from 85 per cent in 2022.
Western and Eastern countries disagree on the benefits of social media. Several countries in Asia (China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand) and the Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) saw more than 80% of their respondents express agreement that social media has a positive effect on society, while many of Western nations saw a majority or near-majority of their respondents disagreeing with the statement.
Global support for immigration is slightly declining. Fifty-nine percent of respondents – down from 61 per cent in 2022 – agreed to some extent with the statement, “My country should be more open to immigration.”
“Switzerland’s enduring success in the Best Countries rankings not only highlights its entrepreneurial strength, quality of life, and positive global image, but also underscores its transformation towards an economy increasingly rooted in science and precision technology,” said David Roth, chairman of WPP BAV. “Exploring consumers’ attitudes towards topics high on the agenda – innovation, climate change, healthcare, inflation and social media to name a few – provides a nuanced understanding of the intricate global landscape, helping brands to craft strategies that resonate with diverse audiences and adapt to evolving societal priorities around the world.”
The 2023 Best Countries rankings methodology is based on a proprietary survey of more than 17,000 global citizens from 36 countries, including business leaders, college-educated individuals who are middle-class or higher; and general citizens who are nationally representative of their country. The survey was administered from March 17 through June 12, 2023.
“Nations are brands in and of themselves just like products, and the brand perception of a country affects its economy,” said David Reibstein, professor of marketing at the Wharton School. “This report is a snapshot for nations on how they are perceived and what to work on to bolster foreign direct investment, foreign trade, and tourism.”
In terms of quality of life, Sweden tops the list with Norway and Canada following.
In adventure, Brazil is on top, while Italy and Greece come second and third, respectively.