DUBLIN — Forget France’s excellent healthcare system or Germany’s strong economy. It’s time to pack up your bags and move to Ireland!
The Republic of Ireland has recently been named the best country in the world by a new study of the world’s most humanitarian countries, The Good Country Index, which was conducted by British policy adviser Simon Anholt. The research takes into account data from 35 sources, including the World Bank, the United Nations, Basel Convention and Global Footprint Network. The purpose: to see which of the study’s 125 nations contributes the most to the global common good.
Indicators examined in the study include number of Nobel Prize winners, exports of creative and cultural goods, drug seizures and amount of humanitarian aid. Anholt also took the nations’ GDP into account, so as not to disadvantage less wealthy countries. Nations were ranked in seven categories: science and technology, culture, international peace and security, planet and climate, prosperity and equality, health and well-being.
The study has turned up some surprising results. Ireland, which is often not considered as strong as its other Western European neighbors, ranked first overall for best efforts for the good of humanity worldwide, as well as first in prosperity and equality. This particular category considered factors like fair trade market size and amount of international development aid. Ireland was also among the top ten culture, prosperity and equality and health and well-being. Ireland was also found to be one of the best keepers of world order because of its status as a UN peacekeeper, the country’s little involvement in international conflicts and its high levels of foreign aid.
While it makes sense that nine of the top 10 countries overall are in Western Europe, Ireland is not the only country with a mystifying ranking. The United Kingdom’s results for the seven categories are all over the place, even though the country is seventh overall. It is ranked first in science and technology, but 94th in world order because of its heavy involvement in foreign conflicts.
The United States finds itself ranked at 21st. The powerful and wealthy country is brought down by its 114th rank in international peace and security for its significant involvement in international conflict, high arms exports and poor Internet security. The ranking is even worse for Russia. At 95th, Russia has particularly low scores in world order and prosperity and equality. Libya is last overall and in the bottom half in every category except international peace and security.
Not all results are disheartening. In fact, Kenya is enthralled with its place at 26th, the only African nation to be in the top 30. Costa Rica is the highest nation outside Western Europe and the English-speaking world at 22nd, closely followed by Chile at 24th. Egypt is especially surprised at its ranking as first in helping maintain world order due to its recent internal clashes. Anholt clarifies that this category considers only the country’s role in external conflicts.
So what does this all mean and why is this study any different from other rankings of world nations?
Plenty of studies have been done to judge who has the healthiest economy or the best education, but this is the first study to consider which countries do the most good for the rest of the world. As Anholt says, “The idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple; to measure what each country on earth contributes to the good of humanity, and what it takes away.” Basically, the index examines how focused the country is on the planet and mankind as a whole, rather than its own internal challenges.
Anholt hopes that it will motivate countries who are only looking inward. Every country has its own struggles. Ireland, for example, has broken banks, relatively high unemployment and a history of religious tension and violence. But according to the study, the country is able to put its issues aside to do good for the rest of the international community. This is a quality that is key in an increasingly globalized world. Anholt hopes that by giving countries another focus to think about, leaders will begin to make decisions based on what is best for humanity at large. The Good Country Index is the first step to holding nations accountable for their international actions and rewarding them for global consideration.
– Caitlin Thompson