Switzerland, Canada and Japan are seen as the best countries in the world in the 2020 Best Countries Report – a ranking and analysis project by US News & World Report, BAV Group and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The report evaluates the perceptions of 73 nations across a range of categories, from economic influence and military might to education and quality of life, to determine which countries wield the most influence on a global scale.
“By collaborating with leaders in data and academia, we’re able to help thought leaders, business decision makers, policy makers and citizens understand how perceptions impact their country’s standing in the world,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at US News.
Rounding out the top five are Germany and Australia, while the UK comes in at sixth, and the US climbed one spot to seventh.
Canada is perceived as the most trustworthy country, and has been since the first Best Countries report in 2016. During that same time, perceptions of the US as being trustworthy have steadily dropped to a record-low of 16.3 on a 100-point scale, while the UK also fell.
South Africa is ranked among the least trustworthy countries (66th), with Kenya ranked at the bottom of the list.
Global anxiety about technology persists, the report found. Nearly three out of four people (74%) think large technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon should be limited, and about the same number agree that technology is displacing jobs. The UK, Canada and Australia agree most with limiting large technology corporations.
In Japan, which is perceived as a technology powerhouse, just 31.5% agree that technology is displacing jobs and 55% agree that big tech should be limited, the report said.
“This year’s Best Countries rankings continue to show us human rights, diversity, sustainability and free trade are all top of mind for many worldwide, connecting us together. These fundamental topics are vital to a nation’s brand strength and reflect how the quality of life can have a dramatic influence on global perception,” said Michael Sussman, CEO, BAV Group.
The 2020 Best Countries rankings methodology uses data gathered from a proprietary survey of more than 20,000 business leaders; college educated individuals that are middle class or higher; and general citizens who are nationally representative of their country.
- United Kingdom
- United States
South Africa is ranked 39th in the overall ranking, from 37th out of 80 countries in 2019.
The report notes the country’s GDP Per Capita at $13,630 (R196,000).
The report shows that although South Africa has come a long way since the end of apartheid in 1994, it remains a country of vast inequality and high crime.
“While the country is dotted with world-class dining, trendy shops, sprawling vineyards and upscale safari lodges, townships lacking basic infrastructure are often only a short distance away.”
“While South Africa is celebrated for its largely nonviolent transition to democracy, it still faces a host of economic, political and health challenges. The country grapples with immigration tensions, the AIDS epidemic, rising unemployment and persistent poverty.
“While the ruling party, the African National Congress, has increased services for the country’s poor, it has faced serious allegations of corruption throughout its ranks.”
South Africa’s best ranking is in the Movers subranking, which speaks to a country’s future growth in terms of per capita purchasing power parity gross domestic product.
“Developing nations – those that are not considered high-income – are poised to grow at a rate that’s almost double the global average. But a world in transition carries risks and unpredictability. The nations that differentiate themselves are those that have the resiliency and momentum to overcome the challenges,” the authors said.
South Africa ranks dismally in the ‘Open for Business’ sub ranking. The countries that perform well in this category are market-oriented, and a haven for capitalists and corporations. South Africa is not one of them.
“In deciding where to bring their business, companies must define their priorities by weighing multiple operating and human costs. National governments face a similar cost-benefit analysis in setting corporate tax rates and policy. The countries considered the most business friendly are those that are perceived to best balance stability and expense,” the authors said.