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New Zealand in global top three for prosperity

November 3, 2014

New Zealand in global top three for prosperity

2014 Legatum Prosperity Index™ reveals that New Zealand is the third most prosperous country in the world, ahead of Australia.

New Zealand has reached its highest level of prosperity ever recorded in the Legatum Prosperity Index (which covers the last six years), climbing two places since 2013 when it ranked fifth.

Norway takes first position while the Central African Republic finishes bottom of the rankings.

The results of the 2014 Prosperity Index show New Zealand ranks in the top 20 in all eight categories, and in the world top 10 in five: Personal Freedom, Governance, Social Capital, Education, and Safety & Security. New Zealand is the most prosperous nation in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks ahead of Canada (5th), Australia (7th), the US (10th) and the UK (13th).

The Index reveals that New Zealand is now the freest country in the world, ranking 1st for Personal Freedom. It is the most tolerant nation in the world, with 92% and 93% reporting the country a good place to live for immigrants and ethnic minorities respectively.

Freedom is matched by strong civil society, with New Zealand’s families among the strongest in the world: 96% can rely on family and friends in times of need, the second highest in the world. New Zealand society is among the most trusting: 62% are trusting of people in general, up from 51% in 2008. New Zealand ranks 2nd in the world for Social Capital in 2014.

New Zealand has shown a particularly strong improvement in the Economy sub-index, rising 12 places since 2012 to rank 15th in the world. This rise is in large part not the result of a fiscal boost from the Christchurch rebuild, but is instead driven by low inflation, increased optimism about the job market (38% up from 28% in 2011), and a longer term improvement in living standards. 87% of New Zealanders now report being satisfied with their living standards, rising from 80% in 2008.

With improving economic performance, thriving civil society, and high levels of freedom, the 2014 Index reveals that New Zealand is strong, prosperous, and free.

The 5 most prosperous countries are:
1. Norway
2. Switzerland
3. New Zealand
4. Denmark
5. Canada

The 5 least prosperous countries are:
1. Central African Republic
2. Chad
3. Congo (DR)
4. Burundi
5. Yemen

Other interesting findings from the report include:
The United States is no longer perceived to be the ‘land of the free’. While the economy has improved as result of the fall in unemployment and an uplift in economic sentiment, the US comes 21st when it comes to personal freedom, trailing Canada (5th), Uruguay (8th) and Costa Rica (15th). The US has also become less tolerant of ethnic minorities and immigrants over the last six years.
Four of the top 10 countries in the Economy sub-index are in Asia. China rises one place this year in the Economy sub-index to 6th. Singapore is 2nd, Japan 7th and South Korea 9th, demonstrating the region’s potential for beneficial trade agreements.
Sierra Leone is the worst performing country on the Health sub-index and Sub-Saharan African countries make up nine of the bottom 10 countries on this sub-index. The health systems in the majority of countries in the region are underdeveloped and ill-prepared to face serious threats to public health, such as the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
Britain is the most prosperous of all the major EU countries, ranking 13th in the world.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said:

“Today’s report by the Legatum Institute which shows the UK as the most prosperous major EU country provides further international support for the government’s long term economic plan. Thanks to the difficult decisions we have taken to deliver economic security and control the public finances we have moved three places up the global rankings. It is fantastic to see Britain leading the way for entrepreneurship, personal freedom, health and education.”

James Barty, Senior Adviser at the Legatum Institute, said:
“With prosperity recently stated as a key metric in New Zealand’s continued development, the government should take heart from the country’s impressive performance in this year’s Prosperity Index.

“Despite the challenges of productivity, location, and a small domestic market, New Zealand continues to flourish and has seen the government’s commitment to sound finances reflected in the country’s improved performance in the Economy sub-index, reaching its highest ever position at 15th in the world.

“Whilst a solid economy is important, it is in particular its strong civil society, high levels of freedom, and good governance that sets New Zealand apart, driving its prosperity upward and securing its place in the global top three.”

The full report is available here and at

About the Legatum Institute Foundation
The Legatum Institute seeks to generate and advance the ideas that help people lead more prosperous lives. For more information please go to and


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