What’s the best country in the world? Not the U.S., says new report

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The mountains surrounding Salt Lake City rise over flags in the Athletes Village representing each country participating in the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2002. The Salt Lake 2002 games run from Feb. 8-24. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

(ABC4) – While the United States moved up in the ranks of best countries in the world, it isn’t the best one.

U.S. News & World Report recently released its annual 2021 Best Countries report. This year, the model used to determine this report evolved in response to the transformational year that was 2020.

To determine the ranks, the report looks at multiple categories, including cultural, economic, political, and technological influences, as well as new categories: social purpose and agility.

“Nations are impacted on many critical fronts by how they are perceived globally – from foreign relations to international business to tourism. These perceptions are ever-evolving in a rapidly changing world,” says Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News. “The 2021 Best Countries analysis combines data and storytelling to explore how countries compare on a host of global issues.”

This year:

  • Canada took the top spot for best overall country for the first time. In 2020, Switzerland took the top stop, with Canada not far behind at No. 2.
  • Canada ranks No. 1 in quality of life and social purpose. It is also perceived to have a good job market, caring about human rights, and committed to social justice. The report also found that Canada ranks No. 1 for being viewed as not corrupt and respecting property rights.
  • The U.S. rose to No. 6 overall, up from No. 7 in 2020.
  • Women are viewed as effective leaders – 83% of global citizens say they believe there is a leadership crisis in the world, but 68% agree countries led by women tend to be better managed.
  • Social justice is a global ambition, with 80% of global citizens feel aligned with social justice.

Additionally, the report also found 75% of respondents agree conspiracy theories are a threat to society. With that, 39% believe governments made up the COVID-19 pandemic to control their citizens.

How the U.S. was ranked

While the U.S. did not top out the list for Best Countries, it did rank highly in many of the individual categories that contributed to overall rankings.

According to U.S. News’s report, the United States is No. 1 for Agility, which refers to whether the country is seen as adaptable, dynamic, modern, progressive, and responsive. This is a new category that evaluates countries and their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturns, and social justice.

In terms of Cultural Influence and Entrepreneurship, the U.S. ranked third. The Cultural Influence category focuses on countries that are centers of art, entertainment, and fashion. Italy and France beat out the U.S. on this list. In the Entrepreneurship category, which looks at a country’s innovation and ability to spread prosperity, Japan and Germany edged out the U.S.

The U.S. has again been ranked No. 1 in the Power category with China falling in the No. 2 spot. This year, China took the second spot from Russia, which fell to the No. 3 spot.

U.S. News included a few subcategories as well. The U.S. ranked in the top five in these categories:

  • Education: No. 1
  • Forward-Looking Countries: No. 3
  • International Influence: No. 1
  • Start a Business: No. 4

Results of ranking categories

Here’s a look at U.S. News Best Countries rankings in each of the major categories:

Overall Rankings

  1. Canada
  2. Japan
  3. Germany

Adventure

  1. Brazil
  2. Italy
  3. Spain

Agility

  1. U.S.
  2. Australia
  3. Canada

Cultural Influence

  1. Italy
  2. France
  3. U.S.

Entrepreneurship

  1. Japan
  2. Germany
  3. U.S.

Heritage

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. Greece

Movers

  1. United Arab Emirates
  2. India
  3. Egypt

Open for Business

  1. Switzerland
  2. Panama
  3. Canada

Power

  1. U.S.
  2. China
  3. Russia

Quality of Life

  1. Canada
  2. Denmark
  3. Sweden

Social Purpose

  1. Canada
  2. Denmark
  3. New Zealand

For full rankings, visit U.S. News & World Report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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