Last year Malawi was The Economist’s country of the year because of its respect for human rights. In 2019, Uzbekistan, also moving closer to democracy, won the honor.
This year though, they shifted to a high income developed country.
The Country of the Year 2021
Each embracing democracy more than in the past, this year’s chief contenders were Zambia, Samoa, and Lithuania. But for improved governance, Italy was the country of the year.
Notoriously bad at choosing leaders, finally Italy chose a winner. Explained by The Economist, competent leadership brought Italy a high Covid vaccination rate, EU funding, and a speedy economic recovery. No, Italy was not the richest nation nor the happiest. But, having elected Mario Draghi, it improved the most. With improvement the Economist’s key metric, Italy became the country of the year.
Our Bottom Line: Ranking Countries
Asked “How are we doing?” countries most typically cite the GDP. As a money measure of annual production, it’s a wealth yardstick that ranks the U.S. at the top and China next. Italy, meanwhile, is #8. Very different, U.S. News asked 17,000 people in 78 countries to rank and score countries according to 76 attributes. The terms ranged from entrepreneurship and business friendliness to adventure and social purpose. Canada wound up as #1, Japan #2, and Germany #3. Italy was #16 (with heritage and cultural influence cited as its chief attributes). Sadly, among the world’s happiest countries, Italy, is #28 ( a big drop from its Economist, GDP and US News ranks.) For happiness, Finland is #1,
My favorite is the Better Life Index. Designed by the OECD, it lets you design your own ranking system. As a result you can prioritize any of 11 categories that include environment, safety, income, and life satisfaction. Then, the criteria you select can determine where you might like to live.
Whatever you choose, please remember that “We treasure what we measure.”
My sources and more: In print and podcast, the Economist named the best country in the world. Using different criteria, U.S. News presents its ranking as does the OECD in its Better Life Index. Finally, you might want to look at the happiness ranking.
Please note that our featured image is from The Economist.