American Dream diminished, global prosperity index suggests

by Ray Clancy on November 5, 2012

First time the US has dropped out of top 10 of a global prosperity index

On the eve of the general election in the United States those thinking about moving to the country may find it harder to fulfil their American Dream.

The US is no longer the prosperous nation it once was and had dropped out of the top 10 of a global prosperity index for the first time. It is placed 12 out of 144 countries.

It has fallen to 12th place in the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index with its performance in five of the index’s eight sub categories weakening.

Norway topped the 2012 index followed by Denmark and Sweden. A new generation of Asian ‘Tiger Cubs’ has also emerged, with Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia all performing well in the rankings.

In Europe, overall prosperity has increased, with the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany each climbing the rankings to eighth, tenth and 14th respectively.

However, more than two thirds, 24 out of 33, of European countries have seen a decline in their economy score since 2009, undoubtedly as a result of on-going economic difficulty in the region.

According to the index findings, the national ethos of the US is under threat, as fewer citizens perceive that working hard gets you ahead, some 85% said so, down from 89% last year.

It also shows that business start-up costs have rise to 1.4% of GNI, up from 0.7% two years ago, and Information Communication and Technology export levels have dropped so the US has fallen eight places in the Entrepreneurship and Opportunity sub-index.

The US has also dropped by four places in the Personal Freedom rankings since 2009 and now sits in 14th place, below Portugal in 13th place and just one place higher than Uruguay.

In addition, the US Economy sub-index score has steadily declined and has been falling consistently since 2009. The US now lies in 20th position, far behind Asia’s leading economies such as Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong who are all rank in the top 10.

‘As the US struggles to reclaim the building blocks of the American Dream, now is the time to consider who is best placed to lead the country back to prosperity and compete with the more agile countries that have pushed the US out of the top ten,’ said Jeffrey Gedmin, president and chief executive officer of the Legatum Institute.

Extremely high health expenditure has secured second place for the US in the Health category, however this top sub-index position masks an ailing picture of health outcomes in the US. Not only is the infant mortality rate in the US close to double the European average at 6.5% compared to 3%, but the US now ranks 33rd overall for life expectancy.

Alongside this, almost a quarter, 24%, of US citizens stated that health problems prevented them from doing things people of their age would normally do, some 5% higher than in the UK.

The Education sub-index was the only category in which the US has advanced. Now fifth in the Education sub-index rankings, the US has climbed eight places since 2011, above the UK and Germany in 30th and 15th place respectively, but falling behind neighbours Canada in third place.

The report says that the rise is largely due to increases in enrolment in primary, secondary, and tertiary education, an increase in levels of secondary education per worker, and a slight increase in citizens’ overall satisfaction with the quality of education.

‘Despite performing relatively well in a few sub-indices, it is clear that the US is struggling to overcome the barriers to prosperity. Good education alone will not keep prosperity afloat and whoever succeeds in the elections this week needs to address the factors that are holding the nation back from being truly prosperous,’ explained Gedmin.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

John Galt November 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Well it is now Thurssay after the election, and amazingly America has voted to keep the downward trend in place. This is hard for many Americans, myself included, who wanted to move toward propserity. Unforunitly we are following the European model that is already bankrupt, rather that embrace the traits that made America great in the first place.

Looks like I will be relocating sooner than I thought.


Steve November 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

America great? When?


jean marc November 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I am back from Las Vegas. I live in Canada. My daughter lives in the US. Very simply put. If you are on the right side of the fence , you are really doing well in the US. If you are on the wrong side, you will suffer. this country is the land of opportunity with everything that it implies.
The article is very biased and not very informative. The US is still a great immigrant magnet for its opportunities. No pity for loser though.


George Carlin November 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm

"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it!"


@RAFraudwha November 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm

"The US is still a great immigrant magnet for its opportunities."

Think that might have something to do with it? No nation can survive a million wealth siphoners every year.


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