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Japan captures second place overall in 2019 best countries report and Thailand best to start a business

The rankings evaluate 80 countries across a range of categories, from economic influence and military might to education and quality of life.

WASHINGTON  — Switzerland is the No. 1 country in the world for the third consecutive year, according to the 2019 Best Countries Report, a rankings and analysis project by U.S. News & World Report, BAV Group and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The rankings evaluate 80 countries across a range of categories, from economic influence and military might to education and quality of life, to capture how nations are perceived on a global scale.

For the first time, respondents were asked to pick the countries they would prefer to buy goods from as a measure of a country’s brand power. Germany comes out on top with consumers wanting cars, healthcare and pharmaceuticals from the nation. France is No. 1 for cosmetics and fashion, Italy is No. 1 in food and wine, and Japan is first for technology and electronics. At No. 8 on the overall Best Countries list, the U.S. has some catching up to do, ranking No. 7 in wine, No. 10 in healthcare and No. 11 in food. 

“The Best Countries rankings draw on U.S. News’ expertise and global authority in measuring complex institutions, such as colleges and hospitals,” said Eric Gertler, executive chairman at U.S. News. “The report arms citizens, thought leaders, business executives and government officials with the data to evaluate the global standings of their nations and leadership.”

Key Findings in the 2019 Best Countries Report:

Tumultuous news cycles have made an impact on global opinions regarding media and world safety. Sixty-three percent of people agree that there are no more objective news sources, and 66 percent say internet news and content is dividing us rather than uniting us. Additionally, more than 50 percent agree the world has worsened in the last year.

With data privacy scandals at the forefront of people’s minds, 77 percent of respondents agree that their internet privacy is at risk. However, slightly more than half of respondents trust private companies to keep their personal data safe, and 58 percent generally trust private companies more than the government. Further, more than 80 percent of those surveyed agree that CEOs and business leaders need to be vocal about their views on societal issues.

Japan rises to the No. 2 spot overall as the world anticipates the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The country is perceived as the most forward-looking, and for the first time, ranks as No. 1 for entrepreneurship. The rest of the top five finds Switzerland – perceived as an innovative country – at No. 1 again, with Canada, Germany and the U.K. following Japan, respectively.

For the second year in a row, the U.S. ranks at No. 8 overall. However, the world’s level of trust in the U.S. continues to decline with the nation now at No. 27 for perceptions of trustworthiness. Perceptions of the U.S. as a country that cares about human rights have also fallen. While these might be signs that President Donald Trump’s strategy on the world stage may not be working, the U.S. is still perceived as No. 1 in power, followed closely by Russia at No. 2.

Nordic countries maintain their strong standing in the overall ranking, with Sweden and Norway both in the top 10 overall. At No. 6 overall, Sweden is the best country for women, to raise children and for green-living. Norway moves up to No. 9 overall, seeing increases in the up-and-coming category and remains No. 1 in citizenship. Belgium makes its rankings debut at No. 17 overall, behind China and ahead of Italy, due to high marks for citizenship at No. 10 and quality of life at No. 11.

Assessing perceptions of countries from North America to Europe to the Middle East, the report finds the U.K. is No. 1 for education, New Zealand is the favorite for retirement, and Canada has the best quality of life. Luxembourg leads in the most business-friendly nations, United Arab Emirates is No. 1 for nations with up-and-coming economies, and Switzerland is the top to headquarter a corporation.

“This report can help brands understand the potential power they have in connecting to their home nations, and help guide in managing their own branding,” said Michael Sussman, CEO of BAV Group.

The 2019 Best Countries ranking methodology relies on data gathered from a proprietary survey of more than 20,000 business leaders, informed elites and general citizens. “The report speaks to the value of having a strong global standing as nations compete for investment, tourists and influence in the same way companies compete for consumers’ dollars,” said David Reibstein, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.

The Best Countries rankings are the centerpiece of U.S. News’ Best Countries portal, a platform combining in-depth news articles, interactive data visualization tools, video, photos and op-eds from global experts in government, business and academia. The platform is part of U.S. News’ civic journalism initiative, which measures government progress locally, nationally and globally. Civic includes the Best States, Healthiest Communities and Cities portals. 

2019 Best Countries Rankings

1. Switzerland
2. Japan
3. Canada
4. Germany
5. United Kingdom
6. Sweden
7. Australia
8. United States
9. Norway
10. France

To Start a Business 
1. Thailand
2. India 
3. China

For Quality of Life 
1. Canada
2. Sweden
3. Denmark

Most Powerful 
1. United States
2. Russia
3. China

For Women 
1. Sweden
2. Denmark
3. Canada

For Education 
1. United Kingdom
2. United States
3. Canada

For Comfortable Retirement 
1. New Zealand
2. Switzerland
3. Australia

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