Wed, Oct 31, 2012 - Page 15 News List

US prosperity slides in index, Norway is No. 1

JUST A DREAM?The US declined in all measures, while in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan were in the top 10 for economies and in the top 20 overall


The US slid from the top 10 most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table that ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and well-being.

The US fell to 12th position from 10th in the Legatum Institute’s annual prosperity index amid increased doubts about the health of its economy and ability of politicians. Norway, Denmark and Sweden were declared the most prosperous in the index, published in London yesterday.

With the presidential election just a week away, the research group said the standing of the US economy has deteriorated to beneath that of 19 rivals. The report also showed that respect for the government has fallen, fewer Americans perceive working hard gets you ahead, companies face higher startup costs and the export of high-technology products is dropping.

“As the US struggles to reclaim the building blocks of the American Dream, now is a good time to consider who is best placed to lead the country back to prosperity and compete with the more agile countries,” Legatum Institute president and chief executive officer Jeffrey Gedmin said in a statement.

The six-year-old Legatum Prosperity Index is a study of wealth and well-being in 142 countries, based on eight categories, such as economic strength, education and governance. Covering 96 percent of the world’s population, it is an attempt to broaden measurement of a nation’s economic health beyond indicators such as GDP.

The report shows that even amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, global prosperity has increased across all regions in the past four years, although the sense of safety and security is decreasing amid tension in the Middle East and fear of crime in Latin America.

Norway and Denmark retained the pole positions they held last year in the overall prosperity measure, while Sweden leapfrogged Australia and New Zealand into third. Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland rounded out the top ten. Central African Republic was ranked bottom.

In Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all ranked in the top 10 for their economies and the top 20 overall. Vietnam and Indonesia also rose. Indonesia experienced the largest gain in prosperity of any country since 2009, jumping 26 positions to 63rd.

Taiwan was ranked 20th among 142 countries in the world. It had the fifth-highest overall ranking among the 28 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region covered by this year’s index, trailing only Australia (fourth), New Zealand (fifth), Hong Kong (18th) and Singapore (19th).

Among the eight categories assessing a country’s overall well-being, Taiwan scored the highest in the “education” and “economy” categories, finishing fourth and seventh in the world, respectively. It ranked second in the “economy” category among Asia-Pacific economies, behind only Singapore, which finished third in the world.

Nathan Gamester, the official in charge of the assessment, said said Taiwan ranked in the top 30 in each of the eight sub-indices, except in the governance category, in which it ranked 31st, four places better than last year. If the current trend continues, Taiwan’s ranking in the governance category could catch up with its performance in other indices in the next year or so, he said.

Additional reporting by staff writer, with CNA

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