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U.S. Drops From Top Ten Most Prosperous Nations

Small Business Trends reports on the 2012 Prosperity Index (HT Power Line) produced by the London-based think tank, Legatum Institute, and writes:

"Over the past four years, prosperity has increased around the globe, while it has remained stagnant in the United States, the Legatum Institute reports. As a result, the Institute ranked the United States 12th out of 142 countries on its 2012 Prosperity Index, putting the country outside the top ten for the first time."

On October 29, 2012, Bloomberg News reported:

" The U.S. slid from the top ten most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table which ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and wellbeing.

"The U.S. fell to 12th position from 10th in the Legatum Institute’s annual prosperity index amid increased doubts about the health of its economy and ability of politicians. Norway, Denmark and Sweden were declared the most prosperous in the index, published in London today.

< . . . >

"The six-year-old Legatum Prosperity Index is a study of wealth and wellbeing in 142 countries, based on eight categories such as economic strength, education and governance. Covering 96 percent of the world’s population, it is an attempt to broaden measurement of a nation’s economic health beyond indicators such as gross domestic product."

The Legatum Institute identified in an October 30, 2012 press release the following "key findings" from its 2012 Prosperity Index:

  • US drops out of global prosperity ‘top ten’ for the first time, and falls eight places in ‘Entrepreneurship & Opportunity’ sub-index.
  • Fewer US citizens agree that working hard results in success.
  • Asian ‘Tiger Cub’ countries climbing Index rankings quickly.
  • European Economy score drops as Euro crisis continues.
  • Scandinavian countries lead worldwide prosperity rankings.
  • Legatum Prosperity Index redraws world map, grouping new continents together according to shared attributes between nations.

Especially troubling is the following portion from the reporting of Small Business Trends:

"Returning us to prosperity is central to the agenda of our newly elected and reelected leaders. But doing so requires an understanding of the causes behind our stagnant wellbeing. The Legatum Institute finds that a decline in entrepreneurship and economic opportunity, rather than slippage in education, health, safety or personal freedom, is to blame.

"In particular, the authors say that the fall in prosperity:

“. . .is driven by a decline in the number of US citizens who believe that hard work will get them ahead.”

"Quite a change from traditional American attitudes."

At Power Line, John Hinderaker concludes:

"Consistent with this finding is the fact that for the first time in history, the average Canadian is wealthier than the average American. Canada has a conservative government, and they have passed us like we are standing still. Which we are, at best.

"All of which raises the question: do Barack Obama and his minions want America to be one of the world’s ten most prosperous countries? If you believe, as I do, that actions speak louder than words, the answer is No."

Finally, at American Thinker's blog today, Rick Moran concludes, "This is incomprehensible to someone my age who grew up in a country that would always be free, prosperous, and strong." And, as Instapundit (who gets the "original HT") quips, "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?"

Readers can obtain more detailed information about the Prosperity Index at its own website, e.g., methodology, countries, data, findings, and various "snapshots."

UPDATE (12/28/12): In the second of three editorials in the December 19, 2012 Washington Times, Nita Ghei does a wonderful job of analyzing and summarizing the findings from the Legatum Institute. Her summary paragraph:

"America is headed down the same path as France, with heavy and ineffective regulation. To avoid a continued erosion of prosperity, we need to start thinking now about repairing the fraying fabric of civil society, rather than going with the easy but ultimately ineffective path of assuming greater government intervention and red tape can fix the economy. Entrepreneurs are the critical ingredient for a prosperous society, and by allowing them to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they helped create the largest single economy in the world. We stand to lose it all if we abandon the American dream that made it happen."

Research Note: Thankfully the results were reported by Power Line and Instapundit. A just-completed search of the New York Times and Washington Post resulted in NO hits although BusinessInsider reported the story one day before the election. And, Legatum's press release provides links to the Bloomberg story, London's Daily Telegraph, and the Wall Street Journal ($)

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