That’s the verdict of the 2018 Best Countries report, which has once again placed Switzerland top in its assessment of 80 countries according to the attributes that it deems ‘relevant to the success of a modern nation’, including economic influence, quality of life and reputation.
Now in its third year, the Best Countries report is a joint project by digital news service US News & World Report, marketing company Y&R and the Wharton School, a business school at the University of Pennsylvania, and is based on a survey of 21,000 people comprising business leaders, ‘informed elites’ and the general public.
Switzerland placed top overall for the second year in a row (it was not included in the survey’s first year) ahead of Canada in second followed by Germany, the UK and Japan in the top five.
Switzerland’s success was partly due to its reputation as a stable, prosperous economy which is open for business. It was named the best country to headquarter a corporation, and ranked among the top three best places to retire.
The alpine country was also deemed to be among the best in the world at caring for its citizens: it placed second in the ‘citizenship’ subranking, which considers how much a country cares about human rights, the environment, gender equality, religious freedom, property rights and well-distributed political power.
That’s despite the fact Switzerland has a larger gender pay gap than many other European countries, has been urged by the UN to improve its human rights, is only now allowing third generation foreigners born and bred in Switzerland to use a slightly easier citizenship application process, and is currently facing the prospect of a referendum on banning the burqa, a move currently supported by a majority of Swiss voters.
For the first time this year Best Countries respondents were asked their opinion of world leaders. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel were the most respected, while US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Putin saw the highest disapproval ratings.
Trump’s America slipped one place in the rankings to eighth, the reason for which is “fuelled by the world’s perceptions of the country becoming less progressive and trustworthy, more politically unstable and a president who after just a year in office is far more unpopular than any other head of state or company CEO”, the report authors said in a press release.