The feat of rating the world’s countries from best to worst seems megalomaniac, but the U.S. News and World Report has been successfully publishing a ranking based on these sprawling criteria since 2016. Last week, the 2023 edition was released, showing that the United States had slipped one spot to rank 5. However, looking at all eight editions of the report so far, the U.S. ranked even lower than in 2023 in between 2017 and 2021.
The global dislike for then-President Donald Trump has been cited as a reason why the U.S. fared poorly between 2017 and 2020. Averaging out all scores countries have earned, the U.S. shares a 7th rank with Australia.
In 2022, the U.S. was back in rank 4 – its inaugural 2016 score – after gaining more points for indicators of quality of life and social purpose. Increases in the entrepreneurship as well as the cultural and natural heritage scores also saw the country improve its standing opposite other nations that year, leading to a much higher score when comparing to previous years. Despite ranking first for entrepreneurship in 2023, overtaking both Germany and Japan since 2021, the U.S. saw a big drop in the “open for business” category and is now ranked 59th for the metric, down from 53rd. As a result, its overall score dropped one rank this year. The U.S. is also ranked first for power and agility.
Germany, on the other hand, lost points for agility, meaning fewer respondents see it as modern, responsive and progressive, as well as in the category movers, which means fewer think of it as unique and dynamic. The country dropped five ranks compared with 2022. Japan meanwhile struggled in the categories entrepreneurship, openness for business, power and social purpose. With 2021 being the first survey carried out after Brexit was finalized, the U.K. saw a drop in that year and has since lost even more ground.
The U.S. World & News Report ranking is mainly based on surveys that show how people all over the world view specific countries. Answers are then structured into 10 subrankings which are weighted for GDP per capita at purchasing power parity.
The top 8 of the ranking has been mostly uniform over the years, with the exception of 2021 and 2023 when New Zealand was featured, first in rank 7 and then in rank 8, while first Sweden and then the United Kingdom ranked 9th those years.
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