Why Germany tops ‘Best Country’ rankings

Germany is viewed globally as the best country in the world, with Canada and the UK occupying second and third position respectively.

The rankings come from the newly-issued ‘Best Countries’ report, a joint analysis project from digital news and information service US News & World Report, global brand consultancy BAV and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Best Countries is a product of the most extensive data set ever collected on how nations are perceived globally,” says John Gerzema, chief executive officer (CEO) of BAV Consulting. “These perceptions contribute to a greater narrative about future drivers and deterrents of economic prosperity in nations and shape powerful brands that impact a country’s bottom line.”

The report notes that Germany is viewed globally as the best country for fostering entrepreneurship and ranked highly for the power it wields and the quality of life provided to its citizens. Undergraduate tuition has essentially been waived at many of Germany’s public universities.

The country’s leadership, provided by Chancellor Angela Merkel is as popular around the world as the leadership from the US., according to a Gallup poll, while its unemployment rate of under 5% is among the lowest in the European Union (EU) and has declined from 11% when Merkel took office in 2005.

Germany’s economic strength derives from its network of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) aka “Mittlestand”. The country is seen as a model for the way in which it trains workers in apprenticeships following secondary school education, these programmes forming part of a larger institutional system that helps foster innovation within companies.

The overall ‘top 10’ in the Best Countries report are as follows:
1. Germany
2. Canada
3. United Kingdom
4. United States
5. Sweden
6. Australia
7. Japan
8. France
9. Netherlands
10. Denmark

Top emerging economies

The rankings, which evaluate 60 nations across 24 rankings lists on a range of criteria, from sustainability to economic influence, also ranks Germany as top for entrepreneurship – helped by its social market economy that combines open-market capitalism as well as social service guaranteed and also its highly-skilled, affluent workforce. While its ageing populations raises questions about high spending levels for its social services, the country is among the most popular destinations for migrant workers and Germany’s foreign-born population has grown substantially.

Others in the ‘top five’ countries for entrepreneurship are Japan as runner-up, followed by the US, the UK and Canada.

A further category in the report is that of countries that are most open for business; here Luxembourg ranks highest (although ranked only 14th as best country overall) – helped by a total corporation tax rate of only 20.2%. Luxembourg is the European Union’s (EU) wealthiest country, a major centre for private banking and with a finance sector that belies its small size. However, the report notes that Luxembourg has come under increasing fire in recent years for its role as a global tax haven, with critics accusing it of offering unfair tax deals to attract major multinational corporations (MNCs).

The ‘top five’ in the ‘open for business’ category is completed by Sweden, Canada, Denmark and Panama respectively.

In the league of up-and-coming economies, it is not surprising to find East and South Asian companies dominate the rankings. India, which is ranked as 22nd in the Best Countries overall table, heads this particular category thanks to its fast-growing and diverse economy and large, skilled workforce. At the same time, the report notes that due to its population, India is also among the world’s poorest countries based on income and gross national product per capita.

Agriculture still employs most workers, but services have become the major source of economic growth. An educated, English-speaking workforce has also seen India become an important centre of IT services, business outsourcing and software workers.

In addition to India, the report ranks Singapore, China, Thailand and Japan as the economies with growth rates most likely to exceed the global average over the next few years.

Among the various other categories in the report, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are judged to be the top three locations for starting a business. The top three locations for investment are India, Singapore and Vietnam, while the UK, followed by Canada and the US are judged as the best countries globally for education.

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