World Country Rankings Brought to You by Patagonia

Suppose you went to a sports event and bought two of those huge foam fingers – one for each hand. You could wave them proudly and scream “We’re number eleven.” Choose red, white or blue  because they go best with the USA jersey you’d also be wearing.


According to the Prosperity Index published by the Legatum Institute, the United States ranks 11th in the world country rankings based on eight major criteria, each with multiple subcategories.

If you’d like to follow recent émigrés like Eduardo Saverin and Tina Turner, here, in order, are the ten better places you could live: Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Either cold weather is conducive to good living or the whole thing is a scam brought to us by Patagonia.


According to its website, “the Legatum Institute is an independent non-partisan public policy organization whose research, publications and programs advance ideas and policies in support of free and prosperous societies throughout the world. The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute of 142 countries. The ranking is based on a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth and quality of life.”

If you don’t love numbers, try the handy infographic. If you do or if you would prefer to weight the criteria according to your preference, try Ranking 2013.

Somehow we snagged a #2 ranking in health and a #5 in education but these were offset by

  • Economy                                                 24        (China 7, France 22)
  • Entrepreneurship & Opportunity      13        (Scandinavia across the board)
  • Governance                                             11        (last among English speakers)
  • Safety & Security                                    31        (It’s for your safety? Oops!)
  • Personal Freedom                                 16        (Uruguay 10, Costa Rica 11 really?)
  • Social Capital                                           9         (usual cold weather suspects)

When all those navigators get finished with maybe they be redeployed to help disgruntled Americans find new countries. The website appears to be working.

Or here is another idea.

Policy makers responsible for notable ranking declines can be exiled to their choice of the bottom five countries: Chad (142), Central African Republic (141), Democratic Republic of the Congo (140), Afghanistan (139) or Burundi (138).

Wait, where did Afghanistan rank before we put all that money into it?

11 Responses to “World Country Rankings Brought to You by Patagonia”

c matheson, December 02, 2013 at 7:38 am said:

The blue eye factor (don’t tell) and you can actually count how many people live in those places.


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 8:59 pm said:

Charlie, see your friend Steel’s comment below. You might both be saying the same thing.


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 9:00 pm said:

oops, Steele. Sorry


Guy Cipriano, December 02, 2013 at 11:46 am said:

Who is the Legatum Institute? 31st in Safety and Security? Probably because somebody doesn’t like our Second Amendment right to bear arms. The establishment of the ranking criteria is by definition totally subjective. This reminds me of US News and World Report’s University rankings. The Naval Academy and West Point rank behind Wellesley. Really?
I don’t think so, but the survey makers only give themselves a vote.


Ashley Higgins, December 09, 2013 at 8:43 am said:

Give a little more time and one of the service academies will be Wellesley–or Sarah Lawrence.


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 8:55 pm said:

love it, thanks


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 8:58 pm said:

I have often suspected that rankings were mostly attention getters especially from those who disagreed. The USN&WR college rankings eventually became the entire net worth of the publication. They catered to those whose self worth was driven largely by the bumper stickers displayed on their SUVs


Charles N. Steele, December 02, 2013 at 2:50 pm said:


Random note. Scott Berg on page 62 of his bio of Woodrow Wilson, quotes WW as saying how much happier US would be “if she had England’s form of government instead of the miserable delusion of a republic. A republic too founded upon the notion of abstract liberty. .. ”

First thought of it as a quote for you in light of your BF quote on the masthead. But also wonder whether if one probed the list of Patagonia countries one might not find a correlation along the lines that abstract freedom for individuals yields where the climate is harsher, requiring more cooperative defenses of resources, or some such thing.


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 8:54 pm said:

Charlie, a very thoughtful observation. See “the other Charlie’s” (Matheson) comment as well.


Chris H., December 03, 2013 at 5:22 am said:

Where’s Brazil on the list? So far down, yet so sunny and inviting! I guess the thong bikini industry doesn’t carry the same weight as Patagonia; maybe they need better PR, or maybe the Legatum Institute folks need to get out more.


Haven Pell, December 09, 2013 at 8:52 pm said:

Legatum is new to me too but “getting out more” is always good advice


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