Norway tops world prosperity index…again

Norway has been ranked the world’s most prosperous country for the seventh year in a row. But the London-based institute behind the index warns it risks losing the top spot without reforms to boost jobs.

Norway tops world prosperity index...again
Oslo's Toyen Shopping centre. Photo: George Rex/Flickr
In the 2015 Prosperity Index, released by the Legatum Institute on Monday, the Nordic nation was again in first place, followed by Switzerland in second, and Denmark in third. 
However, the report’s authors said that Norway’s hold on the top position in the index masked an underlying decline in its performance on the economy — one of eight factors used to rank the world’s countries. 
“The Prosperity Index shows that the Nordics are prosperous places, however, prosperity cannot be taken for granted and without robust job growth the Nordics will struggle to remain at the top of the pile,” the report's authors wrote.  
Norway ranked first on the economy in 2013, as countries without the benefit of its oil-derived income struggled with the after-effects of the global financial crisis. But it was down to fourth place in this year’s ranking. 
“While many other advanced economies have made progress on the Economy sub-index since 2009, the Nordics have been going backwards,” the institute wrote in its report. “Data from the Prosperity Index can pinpoint the primary source of the Nordic malaise. The countries are being let down by their poor labour market performance.” 
The Legatum report includes an essay by Swedish free market economist Nima Sanandaji, who accuses Norway of concealing a high unemployment rate by putting the long-term unemployment on sickness benefit or early retirement.
“Early retirement is one of the main, but not the sole, tactics used in the Nordic welfare systems to hide true unemployment,” Sanandaji writes. “Another example is that unemployed individuals participate in labour market programmes with limited prospects of gaining employment, or are excluded from the labour force for various reasons.” 
The institute argues that the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ labour market model seen in the UK and US seemed to be doing a better job of creating jobs after the crisis. 
The Legatum Institute, backed by the reclusive billionaire New Zealander Christopher Chandler, ranks the world’s countries according to economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, personal freedom, health, security and social capital.

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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'