Behind the Best Countries Rankings
The Best Countries team introduced new data categories and attributes this year, reflecting a world that is much different from it was a year ago. After more than a year of enduring a global pandemic, U.S. News added the Agility subranking, which has the following attributes: adaptable, dynamic, modern, progressive and responsive. The Citizenship subranking was renamed Social Purpose, with new attributes related to racial equality, social justice, climate goals and animal rights.
New attributes tied to digital infrastructure, tourism, consumer brands, exports and geographical attractions were also added across several existing subrankings.
Here are 10 interesting findings from the survey of more than 17,000 people:
Canada Is (Finally) No. 1
After several years at No. 2 and one at No. 3 since the inception of the Best Countries rankings, Canada finally climbed to the No. 1 spot for 2021. The North American country ranked first in both the Quality of Life and Social Purpose subrankings, meaning that it is seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper, and is open, fair and equitable for all. It also performed strongly in the following subranking attributes: a good job market, not corrupt and respects property rights.
Age Gap on Gender Rights
Younger people surveyed were less likely to agree with the following statement: “Women should be entitled to the same rights as men.” With a sample of about 1,600, only 85% of respondents aged 18-24 agreed, substantially lower than the 91.4% of the more than 17,000 overall global respondents. The percentages increased as the surveyed age ranges increased — going all the way up to 96% for respondents aged 55 and higher.
Age Consistency on COVID-19 Response
Despite a mostly uneven response to the pandemic across the world, those surveyed were largely satisfied with their country’s efforts related to the crisis across ages. At least 72% of respondents in each of the five age ranges agreed with the statement, “I approve of my country’s efforts to protect its citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic.” The level of support for a given country’s response was slightly higher for people aged 25-35 (77.47%) and 36-45 (76%).
Asia, Middle East and Africa Have More Favorable Views on Pandemic Aftermath
Respondents in the Asia and Middle East & Africa survey regions say they feel more socially connected and that society has become more caring since the pandemic. For example, at least 70% of those surveyed in both regions say that society has become more caring. The percentages were lower for those two pandemic-related survey questions in Europe and the Americas; less than 50% of respondents in both regions say they feel more socially connected since the crisis.
Differing Regional Views on Women as Leaders
Those surveyed in Asia and the Middle East & Africa were more likely to agree with the statement, “Countries led by women tend to be better managed,” than those surveyed in Europe and the Americas. Despite this favorable view of female leadership, respondents in those two regions were also slightly more likely to disagree with the statement, “Women should be entitled to the same rights as men.”
Asian Respondents Feel More Like Citizens of the World
Respondents in Asia were much likelier to say they feel more like citizens of the world than citizens of their country. More than 66% of respondents in the region said so, compared to an average of about 55% between the Americas, Europe and the Middle East & Africa. Those surveyed in Asia, however, were also more likely than those in the other three regions to say their country is headed in the right direction.
Pessimism About World Safety
Pessimism about the safety of the world was evident across genders, age ranges and regions. Those surveyed in Europe (37.81%) and the Americas (33.39%) were much less likely to say the world is safe compared to the other two regions. Still, less than 50% of respondents in Asia and the Middle East & Africa said they feel the world is safe. Older respondents were also more pessimistic about global safety than younger people.
Gender Gaps on Families and Leadership
There weren’t many areas of gender gap across the survey. But there were two questions that produced differences greater than 10 percentage points. First, men (74.76%) were much more likely than women (63.3%) to say that married couples should have children if they can. The agreement rate was relatively high across regions, but less so in Europe, where about 61% of respondents said that married couples should have children. Second, women (75.56%) were much more likely than men (61.20%) to say that countries led by women tend to be better managed.
Age Differences on Equality
After a year marked by public reckonings over racial injustice around the world, the survey indicates that there are age differences when it comes to equality in one’s own country. Respondents aged 18-24 were surprisingly more likely than those 46 and older to agree with the statement, “My country treats everyone equally.” People aged 25-35 had the highest percentage of agreement at nearly 61%, while those aged 55 and older had the lowest at about 48%.
Conspiracies and the COVID-19 Pandemic
More than 38% of global respondents believe the widely debunked conspiracy theory that governments have made up the COVID-19 pandemic to control their citizens, adding evidence to the belief that such conspiracies are becoming more of a problem in the world. Nearly 75% of those surveyed said they believe conspiracy theories are a threat to society. But fewer young people (68.29%) agreed with this, and young people were also more likely than older respondents to say they believe the coronavirus conspiracy theory.
The 2021 Best Countries rankings, formed in partnership with BAV Group, a unit of global marketing communications company VMLY&R, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, are based on a study that surveyed more than 17,000 global citizens from four regions to assess perceptions of 78 countries on 76 different metrics.
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10 Interesting Facts From the 2021 Best Countries Rankings originally appeared on usnews.com