Once again the USA News Best Country ranking placed Switzerland first out of 80 countries in 2018. The overall score is based on nine groups containing a total 65 measures, scored out of 10, which show Switzerland’s underlying strengths and weaknesses.
Switzerland makes the top 10 on five of the nine high-level measures. These include: citizenship (2nd), business (2nd), entrepreneurship (5th), quality of life (6th) and cultural influence (7th). On the other four it ranks much lower: adventure (17th), power (17th), heritage (27th) and being a mover (28th), a measure of upward economic dynamism.
Drilling down below the nine high-level groupings into the 65 detailed measures helps explain the high-level results while revealing a few contradictions.
Under citizenship (2nd), a group that broadly covers how the country is run, Switzerland performs well across the board with scores ranging from 8.1 to 10.0. No surprises there.
Under business (2nd), a group that looks at how attractive a country is for business, Switzerland’s score is mixed. While it is world-beating on government transparency (8.6), corruption (0.0) and bureaucracy (0.8), it is only average on business tax (5.0) and very poor on manufacturing costs (0.0). This is not surprising either.
Entrepreneurship (5th) is also mixed. While many of the main ingredients are there: access to capital (10.0), business transparency (8.5), legal framework (10.0), an educated population (10.0), technological expertise (7.2), connection to the outside world (8.5) and a skilled labour force (6.9), the nation scores relatively poorly on entrepreneurialism (5.5).
Quality of life is full of contradictions too. High scores on economic stability (10.0), safety (10.0), political stability (9.5), public health (9.9), family life (8.9) and education (8.6), are set against relatively low scores for the job market (6.0), income equality (6.6) and affordability (0.1).
Cultural influence (7th) in Switzerland is all about prestige (10.0), modernity (8.8) and happiness (8.7). On fashion (4.4), trend setting (3.0) and entertainment (1.3) it lacks shine, according to the survey.
The detailed areas under the four high-level groups where Switzerland fails to stand out are sexiness – listed under adventure (0.9), military strength (0.1), difference – listed under movers, a measure of rising wealth (1.1), political influence (1.3), leadership (1.9) and food (2.1).
Switzerland was always going rank low on military strength (0.1), political influence (1.3) and leadership (1.9). It’s small and neutral. In addition, upward economic dynamism (28th) was never going to be a strong point for a nation ranked among the wealthiest for many years.