The Legatum Institute recently released the 2012 edition of its Prosperity Index for 142 of the world's nations. By ranking the nations on factors such as economy, education, health and personal freedoms, the Legatum Institute is able to assign a numberical ranking to each nation.
So, how does the United States rank? Although we did not rank number one in any category, there is some good news to be garnered from the report. The U.S. stayed near the top of the ranks in health, ranking number two (this was down from number one in 2011 and 2010, though). The best news, though, is the improvement seen in the rank the U.S. received in education. In 2010 we ranked nine; in 2011 we were 13. In 2012, the U.S. managed a rank of five.
Ready for the bad news? In almost every other indicator of prosperity that the Legatum Institute measures, the United States fell in its ranking. In economy, we fell to 20 (18 in 2011 and 14 in 2010). In entrepenuership & opportunity, we fell to 12 (5 in 2011 and 3 in 2010). In safety & security, the U.S. ranked 27 — our lowest score (26 in 2011 and 25 in 2010).
Overall, the United States walked away with a rank of 12. Some nations that scored higher than us include Norway (1), Australia (4), Canada (6) and Ireland (10). This is the first time the United States did not make the top 10 in the index.
Looking at the numbers, it is obvious that the economic downturn around the world has not had a proportional affect on all countries. Ireland is a great example of this. Although just a couple of years ago it was affectionally lumped among the PIIGS (Portugal (26), Ireland, Italy (33), Greece (49) and Spain (23)), it bit the austerity bullet and is beginning to see signiticant improvements.
Obviously there are a lot of factors that go into measuring prosperity. Equally obvious, the U.S. faces some tough decisions if we want to make it back into the top 10 next year.