The most prosperous countries in the world, based on happiness and financial health
Norway has been named the world’s most prosperous country for the seventh year running, while neighbouring countries Denmark and Sweden also make the top five in a ranking of 142 countries across the world.
The Scandinavian countries scored highly for factors including education, entrepreneurship and opportunity, the economy, health and social capital.
Oil-rich Norway has an unusually generous benefit system and an early retirement age, and has prospered outside the European Union.
However, the Nordic countries were criticised for their failures to address unemployment. Sweden has an unemployment rate of 7.8pc, Denmark 6.3pc and Finland 9.4pc.
The UK took fifteenth place, having achieved the biggest turnaround in any major developed economy, according to the 2015 Prosperity Index by London-based think tank The Legatum Institute.
Britain has the highest level of full time employment among the poorest 20pc of the population than any major EU economy. In 2009, just 6pc of the poorest fifth had a full-time job. In 2014, this number had risen fivefold to 30pc.
The UK also scored highly for its ease of starting a business, based on low start-up costs and people’s perceptions of the UK’s entrepreneurial environment. Some 88pc of Britons believe that if you work hard you can get ahead in life, up from 84pc last year, and 78pc in 2010.
Nathan Gamester, programme director of the Prosperity Index, said: "The UK is among the most prosperous countries in the world. This is due to a number of factors including a firm belief in the law, the ability to protect its citizens, and the fact that it is one of the most open and free nations in the world."
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By Elizabeth Anderson, The Telegraph