A ranking of the best countries in the world is quickly cobbled together. How meaningful it is is another matter. The media company U.S. News takes a less arbitrary approach to its annual leaderboard and prefers to ask: Which countries have the best image worldwide?
A good image pays off
The ranking of U-S. News in collaboration with the strategy consultancy BAV Group and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is intended to reflect the value of states beyond hard economic and population data. According to the authors, the image plays a decisive role in this. “The reputation can stimulate the economy, tourism and investment and directly influence national economies,” says the preface to the current ranking.
73 nations were examined for the best list. According to the information they represent, they represent around 95 percent of the total value generated worldwide with goods, goods and services. According to the U.S. News on the survey of 20,548 people from 36 countries in four regions (Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East as well as North and South America). Participants were divided into three categories (some fell into more than one category):
- Informed elites (people with higher education who are at least middle class and read or watch the news four days a week): 11,591 respondents
- Business decision-makers (executives or business owners): 6081 respondents
- General public (people aged 18 and over who are representative of their country in terms of age and gender): 6,927 respondents
Factors for the good reputation of a state
According to the information, each country was rated on the basis of 65 possible attributes with which the respondents associate the state or not. The possible properties fell into these nine main categories:
- Sympathetic (two percent of the final grade): friendly, fun, pleasant climate, sexy, etc.
- Civil rights (15.88 percent): takes care of human rights, environmental protection, religious freedom, rule of law, equality, etc.
- Cultural influence (12.96 percent): culturally influential, modern, prestigious, etc.
- Entrepreneurship (17.87 percent): globally networked, high level of education, innovative, easy access to capital, transparent economic structures, etc.
- Heritage (1.13 percent): cultural access, many cultural attractions, diverse history, good food
- Doers (14.36 percent): different, dynamic, unique
- Business basics (11.08 percent): low production costs, favorable tax system, transparent government business, corrupt, bureaucratic
- Power (7.95 percent): a leader, economically and politically influential, strong international relations, strong military
- Quality of life (7.95 percent): good job market, affordable, stable economy, family-friendly, equal pay for equal work, safe, good public school, good health care
In order for a country to be eligible for the ranking, it also had to be in the World Bank’s top 100 for gross domestic product, direct investments from abroad and international tourism in 2017. A prerequisite was a place in the Top 150 of the United Nations Human Development Index. Countries that did not appear in all four rankings and therefore were not included were, according to U.S. News including Belgium and Ireland. Austria, however, made it back into the candidate circle in 2020.
These countries have the best image in the world
@imago images / Joana Kruse
# 10 Norway
Norway fell one place in the 2020 ranking. The country scored best in the categories of civil rights (third place) and quality of life (fourth place). According to the respondents, it was only enough for 48th place in the heritage of the Scandinavian country.
@imago images / imagebroker
# 9 Netherlands
The Netherlands improved by two places. The worst rating came in 39th place in the “Decision Makers” category. In return, our neighbor landed in the top 10 in four areas: civil rights, entrepreneurship, business fundamentals and quality of life.
@imago images / robertharding
# 8 Sweden
For Sweden it was in the country ranking of U.S. News two places down. None of the other 72 countries got better marks for citizenship than Sweden. Sweden came third in terms of quality of life. The Scandinavian country did less well in terms of heritage and the image of the maker.
@imago images / VWPics
# 7 USA
Donald Trump or not: The USA rose one place in the 2020 image ranking. However, the assessment of the respondents in the nine categories was extremely different. The United States was named the most powerful nation in the world and voted in the top 4 for entrepreneurship and cultural influence. However, many respondents were not sympathetic to the United States (33rd place). For the business fundamentals, there was even only 45th place.
@imago images / Science Photo Library
# 6 Great Britain
The United Kingdom has also climbed one place despite Brexit. The best placement came in entrepreneurship (fourth place) and power and cultural influence (fifth place each). For the midfield there was only enough sympathy (36th place) and the doer image (49th place).
@imago images / Blickwinkel
# 5 Australia
Australia was able to improve by two places in the 2020 ranking. The continent achieved this with a solid performance across the board. Australia was between fifth (quality of life) and 27th (heritage) in all nine categories.
@imago images / Westend61
# 4 Germany
Germany held fourth place in the ranking of the countries with the best reputation. Here, too, the picture was split. When it comes to entrepreneurship, the respondents ranked Germany number one worldwide. In terms of influence and civil rights, the Federal Republic placed itself in the top 10. The respondents, on the other hand, attested that Germany had clear weaknesses in the image of the maker (41st place) and sympathy (50th place).
@imago images / imagebroker
# 3 Japan
Japan was the only Asian country to make it into the top 10. It relegated one place in 2020. In five of the nine categories Japan landed in the top 10. The sympathy value was the worst (34th place).
@imago images / Imaginechina-Tuchong
# 2 Canada
Canada moved up one place in 2020 and displaced Japan from second place. The country secured first place worldwide for quality of life, second place for civil rights and third place for business fundamentals. The weak points were the image of the maker (37th place) and the heritage (40th place).
@imago images / Westend61
# 1 Switzerland
No country in the world has, according to U.S. News has a better reputation than Switzerland. It thus defended its top position from the 2019 ranking. The Alpine republic did not come in first in any of the categories. In return, it was in the top 10 in five areas and in the top 20 for three topics. Only for heritage did it have to be content with 31st place. Six of the countries with the best image in the 2020 leaderboard came from Europe.