Why Sweden is now the world's 'goodest' country

Lee Roden
Lee Roden - [email protected]
Why Sweden is now the world's 'goodest' country
The flag of goodness, apparently. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the nation that makes the greatest contribution to humanity as a whole, according to an index that attempts to measure the amount each country gives to the common good.


“Sweden must be bored of coming top in every bloody country index but that’s the fact of the matter,” Good Country Index creator Simon Anholt told The Local.

The newest edition of the index places Sweden top, outranking 162 other countries in a league table based on 35 different indicators from sources including the UN and World Bank.

Anholt, who describes himself as an independent advisor who has worked with the governments of more than 50 countries, says the aim of the ranking is to “find ways of encouraging countries to collaborate and co-operate more, and compete a bit less”.

“Sweden is in a bit of an elite when it comes to thinking about the rest of the world,” Anholt said in an interview with The Local. “The European model is one that trained countries to be much more outward looking, and Sweden is that more than the others.”

The two categories on the index that Sweden performed best in were ‘Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Prosperity and Equality’, placing first in both. Something Anholt highlighted as remarkable.

“Ranking number one in two categories is pretty amazing. Health and Wellbeing covers things like contributions to resolving pandemics and sending doctors to international health disasters. Prosperity and Equality is mainly about trade: how much beneficial trade Sweden indulges in with other countries, and how easy it makes international transactions.”

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Topping the table was a significant improvement on the previous edition of the Good Country Index, which judged the Swedes to be the sixth ‘goodest’ nation in the world. An explanation for the shift can be found in the ‘International Peace and Security’ category, where Sweden ranked 52nd in the new, updated index.

“That was the category Sweden placed lowest in, 52nd, and that’s mainly because of arms exports which it loses points for,” Anholt said. “It came significantly lower the year before though, 111th. The reason for the improvement is because the International Security Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan, which Swedish troops were involved in, ended in 2014.”

“Since it’s killing fewer people abroad, Sweden is free to be recognized as the goodest,” Anholt concluded.

When asked how much opinion or perception may have been involved in the rankings, the man behind the index stressed that they are as objective as possible, and were not designed to produce any particular outcome.

“There’s no opinion or perception involved at all. The numbers are all collected by UN agencies and other major international bodies. It’s as objective as anything like this can possibly be,” he insisted.

“It’s as objective as the United Nations could be, which is fairly objective. Most of these countries are UN member states so if they don’t like the data they should complain to the UN, not to us.”


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