U.S. News & World Report is expanding its ranking portfolio, this year ranking not only institutions of higher learning and hospitals, but entire countries.
The publication, which worked with Penn's Wharton School and BAV Consulting to compile the list, debuted their ratings at the World Economic Forum in Davos. And their winner is: Germany. Rounding out the top ten are, respectively: Canada, the U.K., the U.S., Sweden, Australia, Japan, France, Netherlands, and Denmark.
The losing countries, from best to worst, are: Jordan, Guatemala, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Ukraine, and Algeria.
In a statement, U.S. News chairman and editor-in-chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman said, "Globalization has made the world a competitive place for business, influence and the quality of life… our Best Countries portal will be a global homepage for stories and data to help citizens, business leaders and governments evaluate performance in a rapidly changing world."
The rankings, however, are hardly comprehensive: just 60 countries were rated, which means roughly 60% of the world's countries were left out. And, historically, the publication has not been so good at ranking things.
According to U.S. News & World Report, several factors were taken into accounting when deciding which countries are the "best." The publication explains:
The 2016 Best Countries report and rankings are based on how global perceptions define countries in terms of a number of qualitative characteristics, impressions that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment and directly affect national economies.
The specifics seem a little…vague. Again, U.S. News & World Report explains:
Each country was scored on each of the 65 country attributes based on a collection of individual survey responses. The more a country was perceived to exemplify a certain characteristic in relation to the average, the higher that country’s attribute score and vice versa. These scores were normalized to account for outliers and transformed into a scale that could be compared across the board. Attributes were grouped into nine subrankings that rolled into the Best Countries ranking: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life.
Their breakdown of what things like "adventure" ("friendly, fun, pleasant climate, scenic, sexy") and "movers," ("different, distinctive, dynamic, unique") doesn't really explain what they mean. The rankings also take into account more concrete factors, like GDP.
Overall, about 16,200 people were surveyed for the results. U.S. News explains that respondents were "business leaders, informed elites, and general citizens." The Washington Post notes that the respondents hail from 36 countries, and that fewer than 3,700 of the survey-takers fall into the "general citizens" category, which perhaps explains why the rankings were revealed in Davos.
In describing the winning country's attributes, the outlet offers a weirdly positive spin on the horrific global events that helped strengthen Germany:
The legacy of Nazism expresses itself today in the form of tough laws addressing hate speech and denial of the Holocaust… The country is one of the world’s most popular migration destinations, and the size of the foreign-born population in Germany has grown substantially in the 21st century.
Oh well, silver linings.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.