JUST as a high salary is not always enough to keep someone in a job that makes them unhappy, so economic measurements alone don't tell the whole story about the success of a nation.
The 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index has just been launched. Working on the principle that wealth alone does not make for a happy and successful society, the Index assesses democracy, freedom, entrepreneurial opportunity, education, safety, health and other similar factors.
Whether out of sheer interest, or making a decision to invest in a particular country or indeed as an employer looking at employee engagement and motivation, the full report, launched last week by former U.K. business secretary and former EU trade commissioner, Lord Mandelson, makes fascinating reading and is available at http://www.prosperity.com
So, whereas two months ago, China overtook Japan as the world´s second largest economy, Japan is 18th on the index while China languishes in 58th place. The top 20 in the rankings are listed below.
In 1968 Senator Robert F. Kennedy said "gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials . . . it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."
What is most interesting about the Legatum findings is not the individual country rankings, but the reasons that lay behind why they are ranked as they are.
For example, while it may not be surprising that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa sit in the bottom 15, there are some reasons for optimism. The index shows that the most successful African countries owe their success to radical improvements in the quality of their governance, particularly in establishing confidence in the military and in the judicial system. The three best-performing sub-Saharan countries are Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, which rank 57th, 66th, and 71st respectively. The common factor is that they all score highly on Legatum´s governance sub-index.
Another important finding is the degree to which entrepreneurship and appetite for risk correlate more closely to a nation´s overall prosperity than any other factor. This implies that while other foundations such as health, education, or even the economic stability, are critical, levels of entrepreneurship and ability to develop new businesses actually provide the best proxy for understanding how prosperous a society can be.
5 New Zealand
10 United States
13 United Kingdom
20 Hong Kong