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How the US stacks up to the world’s most prosperous country

American flag
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Seeking lessons from Scandinavia.
By Sonali Kohli
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In yet another sign that America’s role as a global power is waning, the country came in 10th in a global ranking of prosperity among countries.

The Legatum Institute’s 2014 Prosperity Index judges countries both in terms of income and measures of wellbeing. When the index first launched in 2007, the US tied for the #1 spot.

The index measures a country’s wealth not only by its GDP, but also by measures like education, social freedom, health, governance, and safety and security. Here are the 10 most prosperous countries this year, according to the measures:

  1. Norway
  2. Switzerland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Denmark
  5. Canada
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. Finland
  9. Netherlands
  10. United States

The only thing the US beats the rest of the world in is health. It falls as low as 17 for the economy, 21 in personal freedom, and 31 for safety and security. Of course, that’s compared to the 142 countries in the index, so its position could be worse. The index uses available data for countries ranging from as early as 2005 for Norway (the earliest US measure is 2009) to 2013 to create the rankings.

Here’s how the US fares in some measures against Norway, which has held the top spot since at least 2009.

Almost all Americans have cell phones, but in Norway people have more than one phone.

Norwegians also have more faith in the honesty of their politicians and businessmen than do Americans.

Students can expect a little more attention from their teachers in Norway, where educators can focus on fewer pupils.

Norwegians enjoy their prosperity for longer, with a greater life expectancy of about three years.

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