Denmark has been the most prosperous country of the world in 2019, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index 2019. It is followed by Norway and Switzerland at the second and third place, respectively. Sweden is ranked at 4, while Finland has sealed the fifth spot for the most prosperous countries in the world.

Prosperity has various dimensions, and is not just limited to the level of wealth in a country. Prosperity includes the people’s living conditions, personal freedom, access to education and health, market access, social capital, governance, and natural environment, among other factors.

10 Most Prosperous Countries

The most prosperous countries in the world typically rank high on related indexes as well, such as those on livability, happiness, human development, and security. Moreover, many of these nations are also among the most gender-equal countries in the world.

The 10 most prosperous countries are all of them being high income nations. They include each of the five Nordic countries, while New Zealand is the only non-European country in the top-10 list. The countries are ranked as follows.

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Sweden
  5. Finland
  6. Netherlands
  7. New Zealand
  8. Germany
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Iceland
New Zealand is one of the world's most prosperous countries
New Zealand is among the world’s most prosperous countries. Pictured above is Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

Canada, ranked 14, is the most prosperous country in the Americas, while USA is ranked at 18. The top 20 nations also include three from Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan. Botswana (76) is the top ranked nation from mainland Africa, although, the island nation of Mauritius is ranked at 44.

Among other countries, United Kingdom is ranked 11, Australia is at 17, and Russia is at 74. The Legatum Prosperity Index includes a total of 167 countries. The least prosperous country is South Sudan, followed by Yemen, Central African Republic, Chad, and Afghanistan.

Key Findings of Legatum Prosperity Report

The 13th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index, published towards the end of 2019, reveals that global prosperity has largely improved since 2009. Out of the 169 countries included in the index, 148 have improved over the past decade, but 19 have declined in prosperity. While living conditions, education, and health have improved in recent years, the natural environment has stagnated.

China has achieved economic prosperity
China, although fast rising in economic prosperity, is ranked 57 in the Legatum Prosperity Index 2019. Pictured above is the Huangpu region of Shanghai.

The overall investment climate has improved globally, and access to internet has actually doubled since 2009. Both health and education have also improved, leading to improvements in living conditions. However, certain determinants of prosperity, such as personal freedom and governance, have deteriorated in most regions. Security is another area of concern in large parts of the world.

How Prosperity is Measured

The Legatum Prosperity Index, developed by the London-based Legatum Institute, analyzes the performance of 167 countries across three domains considered essential to prosperity: inclusive societies, open economies, and empowered people. The index is based on 12 “pillars of prosperity” which are split into 65 elements. It is constructed using 294 indicators from over 80 data sources, focusing on both economic and social well-being. The rankings also incorporate input from over 100 expert advisers.

The 12 Pillars of Prosperity according to Legatum Prosperity Index
The 12 Pillars of Prosperity as determined by the Legatum Prosperity Index

“Prosperity entails much more than wealth: it reaches beyond the financial into the political, the judicial, and the well-being and character of a nation — it is about creating an environment where a person is able to reach their full potential. A nation is prosperous when it has effective institutions, an open economy, and empowered people who are healthy, educated, and safe.”

– Baroness Philippa Stroud, CEO of the Legatum Institute

Although world prosperity has shown favorable trends in recent years, the outbreak of the devastating coronavirus (COVID-19) has, no doubt, altered the situation in 2020. The prosperity levels have declined in most countries, with widespread deaths, and the enforced lockdowns pushing many countries towards a recession. However, the exact extent of the decline in prosperity shall be revealed in Legatum Institute’s 2020 report.

You can download the Legatum Prosperity Index 2019 here.