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Norway tops global prosperity ranking

Norway remains the most prosperous country in the world, edging its Scandinavian neighbours atop an annual list of countries ranked according to wealth and well-being.

Norway tops global prosperity ranking
Photo: Sara Johannessen/Scanpix
In the 2012 Prosperity Index published on Tuesday by the London-based Legatum Institute think tank, Sweden climbed to third place in 2012, up from fifth place in 2011.Norway, meanwhile, maintained its hold on the number one spot, while Denmark came in second.Published annually for the last six years, the Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries based on criteria in eight categories including economic strength, health, education and governance.

Denmark came second and Sweden third in the 2012 Prosperity Index (pdf) published on Tuesday by the London-based Legatum Institute think tank.

Published annually for the last six years, the Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries based on criteria in eight categories including economic strength, health, education and governance.

In the 2012 ranking, Sweden received highest marks in the "Entrepreneurship and Opportunity" sub-index, ranking second overall on the strength of low business start-up costs, high mobile phone penetration, and a high percentage of people who believe they will get ahead with hard work.

According to Legatum Institute CEO Jeffrey Gedmin, the index creates a "comprehensive picture of what makes a country truly successful, encompassing traditional measures of material wealth, as well as capturing citizens’ sense of well-being".

"GDP alone can never offer a complete view of prosperity," he said in a statement.

According to Gedmin, successful countries combine "social responsibility with personal freedom".

Despite continuing economic concerns in Europe, European countries dominated the top ten.

The United States, meanwhile, dropped out of the Prosperity Index top ten for the first time, dropping to twelfth place at what Gedmin called a "pivotal time" as the 2012 presidential elections draw closer.

“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 that have pushed the US out of the top ten," he said.

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UN

Why Norway is set to lose top spot on UN development ranking

Norway regularly takes the top spot on the United Nations Human Development Index, but a new parameter is set to change that.

Why Norway is set to lose top spot on UN development ranking
File photo: AFP

The UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranks countries on how well they provide conditions for people to reach their potential, using parameters including life expectancy at birth, expected years of schooling and gross national income.

Norway is top of the 2020 HDI, a ranking not uncommon for the Nordic nation.

The report, which comes from the UN Development programme (UNDP), ranks countries in relation to progress on the UN’s global development targets. Like it was this year, Norway is regularly ranked the world’s top nation by the UN.

Despite this consistency, Norway can no longer call itself the ‘world’s best country’ based on the ranking, national broadcaster NRK writes.

A new addition to the ranking will include the costs to nature and the environment of gross national product. That will make CO2 admissions and individual carbon footprints part of the broader assessment of development.

According to the UNDP, emissions are a new and experimental lens through which to view development. But the inclusion of climate and the environment gives the index a different look.

When CO2 emissions and resource consumption are factored in, Norway finds itself in a much more moderate 16th place on the UN development ranking.

The adjusted list is yet to be published by the UN, but the Norwegian national broadcaster has been informed of the new positions, NRK states in the report.

Norway’s CO2 emissions of 8.3 tonnes per resident are among the 30 worst values of included countries, and it also fares poorly in a measurement of material resource use per resident, resulting in a lower overall position.

“Norway loses its top placing because of our high imprint on the planet. This is an import debate and it’s time we had it,” Bård Vegar Solhjell, director of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), told NRK.

READ ALSO: Norway ranked world's top nation for 'human development'

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