10 Most Prosperous Countries


The Diplomat asked the London-based Legatum Institute to name the 10 most prosperous countries in the Asia-Pacific based on its global assessment of wealth and wellbeing. Using conventional measures of health and wealth, as well as scoring factors like entrepreneurship and community engagement, Legatum has provided The Diplomat with its list of the best of the best in the region. For the full global index click here.

10 Most Prosperous Countries
1. Australia
Australian citizens have unconstrained freedom to practise their religious beliefs, speak freely without fear of government censorship, and travel freely within and out of their own country. It’s such freedom, combined with Australians’ strong social bonds and extremely good scores for its high quality education system and democratic institutions that make Australia the most prosperous country in the Asia-Pacific, and place it sixth in the world.
Image Credit: Hai Linh Truong
10 Most Prosperous Countries
2. New Zealand
Just behind Australia comes neighbour and sporting rival New Zealand. Scoring the highest of any country in the world in terms of social capital, New Zealanders demonstrated a trusting nature, willingness to help strangers and close knit bonds with their countrymen. More than nine out of 10 New Zealanders believe they can rely on friends and family, and this, combined with a global top 5 placing in democratic institutions and high personal freedom, are enough to lift New Zealand to number 10 in the world.
10 Most Prosperous Countries
3. Japan
With a strong health infrastructure, an innovative society, extremely low rates of assault and theft and tens of thousands of new businesses registered each year, Japan scores highly in terms of health, safety and entrepreneurship. More than 90 percent of Japanese say they can rely on family and friends in times of need, while more than three quarters say they are satisfied with the freedoms afforded to them in their daily lives.
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10 Most Prosperous Countries
4. Singapore
Among the safest countries in the world and with the world’s lowest rate of infant mortality, Singapore scores extremely highly in terms of safety and security, health, governance and economic fundamentals. However, its score is dragged down to 4th in the Asia-Pacific due to low levels of personal freedom and social capital. Whilst a high 61 percent reported having donated money, general trust in others was low at 15 percent of the population.
Image Credit: William Cho
10 Most Prosperous Countries
5. Taiwan
Extremely high enrolment rates in primary, secondary and tertiary education give Taiwan its best score in the index and also a well-educated workforce. This helps Taiwan score well in entrepreneurship and innovation, with the Taiwanese investing heavily in R&D, reflecting the value placed on innovation on the island. With good scores on health and safety and security, Taiwan is 5th in the Asia-Pacific. However, it records a low score on social capital, with few Taiwanese residents engaging in the voluntary sector.
Image Credit: Tatsuto Hyogo
10 Most Prosperous Countries
6. South Korea
Doing best in entrepreneurship and innovation thanks to its thriving technology sector, South Korea is the sixth most prosperous nation in the Asia-Pacific according to Legatum. With a strong score for economic fundamentals (held back a little by the lack of foreign direct investment) and reasonable score for governance, South Korea’s workforce also leads the world in terms of years of tertiary education, creating a well-educated population. However, the country ranks just 70th globally in terms of personal freedom, with only 64 percent satisfied with the freedom of choice in their daily lives.
Image Credit: Jose Gabriel Marcelino
10 Most Prosperous Countries
7. Malaysia
With a high number of entrepreneurs and high levels of international trade, Malaysia scores best on economic factors. The country has a low unemployment rate and its workers have access to a high level of capital stock, including offices and productive machinery (although development is hampered by the limited communications infrastructure). But the country scores relatively poorly in terms of democratic institutions (69th in the world) and personal freedom (83rd), with a very low percentage of Malaysians believing the country is welcoming to immigrants.
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10 Most Prosperous Countries
8. Thailand
Ranking 44th in the world and 8th in the Asia-Pacific, Thailand scores especially well on social capital, with Thai citizens enjoying strong kinship ties (though social bonds are weaker outside the family). Thailand also benefits from an abundant entrepreneurial spirit and high internet bandwidth, although investment in innovation is remarkably low for an economy based on high-tech exports. The country is weakest on democratic institutions, with significant political instability seeing it come 81st globally.
Image Credit: Shubert Ciencia
10 Most Prosperous Countries
9. India
The world’s largest democracy manages a satisfactory 36th in the world in terms of democratic institutions but scores in the top 5 globally in terms of social capital, with Indians reporting high levels of membership in community organisations. Although only 23 percent of Indian citizens believe they can trust others, and just 64 percent believe they can rely on family and friends, data from Gallup suggests most find friends to be very important. India scores worst on education (86th), safety and security (87th) and health (88th).
Image Credit: Christian Haugen
10 Most Prosperous Countries
10. Mongolia
Rounding out the top 10 most prosperous countries in the Asia-Pacific is Mongolia, which scores moderately well on safety and security (although less than half of all Mongolians feel safe walking around their local area at night) and social capital, where Mongolians benefit from high levels of charitable donations and voluntary contributions. However, the country scores poorly on entrepreneurship and innovation, with the country ranking 70th globally on the back of one of the lowest value added figures by the service industry in the world, and on governance, where the country ranks 86th, due largely to low levels of trust and an inefficient bureaucracy.
Image Credit: Flickr/Vera & Jean-Christophe
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