My top 20 country rankings

Nation brands could not be omitted in my course on public diplomacy. The images and international standings of countries prove whether governments conduct successful or hopeless public diplomacies. The nation standing can be analysed from many different perspectives: economic, security, societal, cultural, technological, and others. Fortunately, there are many international rankings that help analysing these fields.

I have my favourite ones that I have shown to my students, especially when we analysed the case study of Ukraine. The whole presentation is available here:

I thought it would be useful to have a list of international rankings in my teaching materials. Here it is, based on the alphabetical order.

  1. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. This ranking addresses one of the biggest challenges faced by all the countries in the world, the one that will be never and nowhere stopped in 100%. Since corruption is really hard to measure, the index focuses on the perception of corruption, analysed first and foremost in expert and business circles. Transparency International has been conducting this research for more than 20 years. It is available here:
  2. FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index. What makes this research innovative is the fact that it is conducted by a company dealing especially with corporate brands – and it adjusts its methodologies to analysing country brands. It proves that not every country can be treated (or is perceived) as a brand. The research has been conducted for more than a decade. It is available here:
  3. Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, one of the top EUI annual works, covering the vast majority of countries, listing them in 4 categories from full democracy to authoritarian regimes. Highly commented in the media as soon as it is out. And sometimes controversial, like the last edition presenting a fall in the number of full democracies. The report is available here:
  4. World Bank’s Doing Business. One of the sets of data that probably every government, every financial institution and every serious investor in the world analyses as soon as the new edition is out. It has been conducted for more than a decade and covers regulations that ease and constrain doing business in respective countries. It is available here:
  5. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index. Tackles a similar topic to the one analysed by the EUI, but with a different methodology, dividing countries into three simple categories: free, partly free and not free. Similarly to the EUI Democracy Index – as everything discussing the level and quality of democracy around the world – it is called controversial by many commentators. It is available here:
  6. The Fund for Peace’s Fragile States Index. A very comprehensive index, covering cohesion, economic, political and social indicators, analysed by a quarter-century-old, but still applicable methodology. The reading of the index proves that nothing is as black or white as it seems. It is available here:
  7. World Bank’s Gini Index. Just as World Bank’s Doing Business reports, it should also be analysed by investors and global financial institutions, but no one knows whether they have a look at it from time to time. It analyses the income/wealth distribution and dispersion among residents of respective countries and shows whether a country makes steps towards equality or the other way round. Data are available here:
  8. World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index Report, available here: WEF works are so comprehensive and up to date that I read their articles and research every week. I follow not only the results in the field of competitiveness, but also other WEF reports, which I find to be a huge source of data and knowledge. Recently I read The Global Human Capital Report 2017 and posted about its findings here:
  9. Cornell’s, WIPO’s and INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index. The report analyses 81 (!) indicators and lists more than 120 countries from the most to the least innovative ones. As innovation is multidimensional, the report also covers many different fields. For example, this year’s edition focuses primarily on agriculture and food production. The whole world expects shortages in food. There are still regions where hunger is common. High time the food production innovations have been analysed. The report is available here:
  10. Elcano’s Global Presence Report. 100 countries are covered and analysed from the perspective of their engagement in globalisation. This year’s edition posts a question whether we are at the beginning of the process of de-globalisation, as “the foreign policy space has decreased for the first time in the series”. The report is available here:
  11. Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index. A very tailored report on one of the crucial contemporary challenges to international and internal security across the globe. It has been published since 2000 and based on the most comprehensive and richest Global Terrorism Database. Provides global, regional and country-specific perspectives, and also tackles trends, changes and patterns in terrorism. The report is, available here:
  12. United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index. One of the most comprehensive and up-to-date UN data sets, devoted to a broad issue of the development of countries – going well beyond their economic growth. It focuses especially on fields like health, education, and standards of living across the globe. It is available here:
  13. CATO Institute’s Human Freedom Index, covering various dimensions of freedom: personal, civil, economic ones. They are analysed from the perspective of i.e. the rule of law, legal system and property rights, the size of governments, the access to sound money and others, close to the heart of the CATO Institute. The up to date results are available here:
  14. Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Freedoms again! The research has been conducted for more than 2 decades already and proves that economic liberties and freedoms contribute very, very much to the broad issue of the progress (political, societal, cultural and others) of countries and the world. Hence, the report is an obligatory reading for many more stakeholders than just financial institutions and investors. The current results of the research are available here:
  15. Brand Finance’s Nation Brands Index. This research analyses country brands from the financial and economic perspectives: investment opportunities, import/export structures, tax and intellectual property laws and many others. The report explains also trends, changes and processes (like contemporary isolationist turn of some circles), explaining their impact on countries’ financial brands. The results are available here:
  16. OECD’s PISA – Programme for International Student Assessment. And here it is, one of my favourite topics – education. And as my son is growing up, I will certainly attach more and more attention to this data. OECD provides the leading research not only on the excellence in education in various countries, but also about the well-being of students (those who watched “13 reasons why” know how important it is). The dataset is available here:
  17. Portland’s Soft Power 30, available here: As this report was hugely commented in digital media over the summer, I also posted several updates on it, examples are available here:
  18. INSEAD’s The Global Talent Competitiveness Index. Available here: I love the topic of pulling talents and really liked explaining it to my students (their eyes were widening and widening with every sentence). This year’s edition of the INSEAD’s report is focused primarily on the future of work and on how the technological revolution changes the needs of talents in various countries. I mentioned this index in my first LinkedIn article on Top6 INSEAD Knowledge pieces on education, available here: My presentation on smart power, where the ability of countries to pull talents is covered, is available here:
  19. Academic Ranking of World Universities “The Shanghai List”. To say that this ranking is extremely popular and extremely controversial is probably to say nothing about it. Every country wants to have its universities in the ranking and every university wants to climb up the ladder. At the same time, the methodology of the ranking is broadly disputed and causes a headache to many higher education and science experts. The results can be found here:
  20. Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. The report analyses a vast majority of countries – 180 of them. And is based on a multidimensional questionnaire. It focuses on the danger of violence against journalists, on pluralism and the independence of media, on legislative framework and the risks of censorship. So – freedoms again! The report is available here:

This is not a list of the best of the best international rankings. It is just my list of rankings I often have a glance at, especially when I think of my students’ educational needs. As you can see, I look through diverse sources. If there are any other rankings, indexes or reports that may be worth sharing, the comment section to this article is a perfect way to post about them. Looking forward to seeing recommendations.

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