We’re Number 4! We’re Number 4! We’re Number 4!

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I don’t know how I missed this, since such rankings usually capture my attention as soon as they are released.

Well back in January of this year, U.S. News and World Report, in conjunction with Britain’s WPP’s brand strategy firm BAV Consulting and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, developed a Best Countries ranking.

To cut rate to the chase, Germany was Number 1 overall, and the United States was Number 4.

Here is some background on what the survey measured and how the data was captured, from the U.S. News web site. If you’d rather just check out the rankings, click on Rankings.

The report and rankings are based on how global perceptions define countries in terms of a number of qualitative characteristics, impressions that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment and directly affect national economies. Sixty nations were measured in the inaugural report.

A set of 65 country attributes – terms that can be used to describe a country and that are also relevant to the success of a modern nation – were identified. Attributes by nation were presented in a survey of more than 16,000 people from across the globe where participants assessed how closely they associated one with the other.

Each country was scored on each of the 65 country attributes based on a collection of individual survey responses. The more a country was perceived to exemplify a certain characteristic in relation to the average, the higher that country’s attribute score and vice versa. These scores were normalized to account for outliers and transformed into a scale that could be compared across the board.

Attributes were grouped into nine subrankings that rolled into the Best Countries ranking: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life.

To understand how countries are perceived, we endeavored to survey engaged citizens who were broadly representative of the global population, with an emphasis on those who would deem the topic and findings most relevant to their lives.

Self-identification in demographic questions distinguished respondents into three defined groups: informed elites – college educated individuals who consider themselves middle class or higher and who read or watch the news at least four days a week; business decision-makers – senior leaders in an organization or small business owners who employ others; and general public – adults at least 18 years old who were nationally representative of their country in terms of age and gender.

Individuals who were likely to fit these descriptions were targeted and sent the link to an online survey through Lightspeed GMI, a global market research and data collection firm. A total of 16,248 individuals from 36 countries in four regions – the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and Africa – were surveyed. Of the respondents, 8,092 were informed elites and 4,513 were business decision-makers. Some respondents were considered both informed elites and business decision-makers. The remaining 6,381 respondents were from the general public.

Survey participants were given a random subset of countries and country attributes to consider. The combinations were presented in a grid form where participants were prompted to check off the characteristics they associated with each country. If a participant indicated that they were not familiar with a country, it was removed from their survey.

Each participant considered about half of the country attributes for about a third of the countries. In this way, each attribute and country pair was reviewed at least 270 times by each of the three types of survey participants in each of the four regions. The more times an attribute-country pair was checked off in the grid, the higher the attribute score was for that country.

Rankings – top three in each category, plus U.S. ranking if lower

Best Countries Overall

  • #1     Germany
  • #2     Canada
  • #3     United Kingdom
  • #4     United States

Adventure

  • #1     Brazil
  • #2     Italy
  • #3     Spain
  • #27   United States

Citizenship

  • #1     Sweden
  • #2     Canada
  • #3     Denmark
  • #11   United States

Cultural Influence

  • #1     France
  • #2     Italy
  • #3     United States

Entrepreneurship

  • #1     Germany
  • #2     Japan
  • #3     United States

Heritage

  • #1     Italy
  • #2     Spain
  • #3     Greece
  • #22   United States

Movers

  • #1     India
  • #2     Singapore
  • #3     China
  • #22   United States

Open for Business

  • #1     Luxembourg
  • #2     Sweden
  • #3     Canada
  • #23   United States

Power

  • #1     United States
  • #2     Russia
  • #3     China

Quality of Life

  • #1     Canada
  • #2     Sweden
  • #3     Denmark
  • #14   United States

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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