Fact 7 Best for the world

Sweden is best for the rest of the world, Denmark is second best, Finland 7th, and Norway 13th according to this Good Country Index: https://goodcountry.org/index/overall-rankings

We certainly hope it is true, because being Swedish and Danish respectively, we want our countries to be good countries not only to ourselves but to the world in general. Following Swedish and Danish politics, however, we are not satisfied and think that relative goodness is not enough: both countries could be doing more and better.

Fact 1 Happiness

It is usually the Danes who are the happiest people in the world. In 2015, however, the Swiss were happiest. The Danes were not too happy about this, but apparently they did not get too sad because as of 2016, the Danes are again the happiest people in the world, the Norwegians are number 2, the Swiss are in 3rd place and no Nordic country falls outside the Top Ten:

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Netherlands
  5. Sweden
  6. Canada
  7. Finland
  8. Austria
  9. Iceland
  10. Australia

You may find the full report and more info here: http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2016/

The question is, of course: Why are the people of the Nordic countries so happy all the time? And why is it always countries like Switzerland, Netherlands and Canada we compete with in these international surveys?


Fact 2 Competitiveness

Can the Nordics outperform the EU and the US?

The World Economic Forum measures competitiveness among countries, and though Switzerland was number 1 in 2014-15, the Nordic countries were close to the top as well: Finland 4, Sweden 10, Norway 11, Denmark 13, and Iceland 30. – You may read the full report here.

Given that market size plays a part in the overall ranking, these six small countries are doing pretty well!

Taken together, in 2011 the four largest Nordic economies, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland outperformed the EU average on all parameters, and on 8 out of 12 compared with the United States, according to the report The Nordic Way by The World Economic Forum and the Swedish think tank Global Challenge.

If you want to see how individual countries are holding up, The World Economic Forum has a really cool analytical tool here: http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-report-2015-2016/economies/

As we are going to explore in The Nordic Secret, the book as well as this website, we think that the secret behind our competitiveness is the same in Switzerland and the Nordics.

Nordic competitiveness


Fact 3 Modern Values

As one can tell from the World Value Survey 2015, the Nordic countries stand out.

Secular-rational values go hand in hand with education and science and allow for religious assumptions and traditional power structures and ways of thinking to be challenged. This challenging of old ideas allows for innovation, economic growth and harvesting the fruits of education and scientific progress.

Survival vs. self-expression values say something about how much each individual is free to pursue their dreams and how much one can stand out from the crowd. This again allows for innovation and new perspectives on things. But it requires not just a culture that is open to individuality and personal eccentricity, but also a society that is rather robust and feels safe and secure. When there is a collective sense of the group being threatened, be it by austerity or outer enemies, most humans feel safer if the group is not also challenged from within by too much diversity and people who want to do things differently.

Sweden, in the far, top right corner, is the country with the highest score on self-expression values and on secular-rational values is only outranked, but Japan scores considerably lower on self-expression. Norway and Denmark are the countries closest to Sweden when the two scales are combined and, still combining secular-rational and self-expression values, next in line are Finland, Netherlands and Iceland.



Fact 4 Human Capital

According to The World Economic Forum the Top Ten countries on human capital are:

  1. Finland
  2. Norway
  3. Switzerland
  4. Canada
  5. Japan
  6. Sweden
  7. Denmark
  8. Netherlands
  9. New Zealand
  10. Belgium


World Economic Forum:

Talent, not capital, will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century, and we must each understand better the global talent value chain. Better data and metrics are critical to this understanding. The Human Capital Index quantifies how countries are developing and deploying their human capital and tracks progress over time.

The Human Capital Report measures formal education but misses the Nordic Secret.

WEF_Human_Capital_Report_2015 - education table p 4

Fact 5 Best for Business

According to Forbes Magazine, the Nordic countries are among the best countries for  business 2015:

  1. Denmark
  2. New Zealand
  3. Norway
  4. Ireland
  5. Sweden
  6. Finland
  7. Canada
  8. Singapore
  9. Netherlands
  10. United Kingdom
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Switzerland
  13. Iceland

The World Bank has a table and great statistical material ranking countries on the ease of doing business.

Considering that there are countries where it takes 182 days to legally open a business, one cannot help appreciating that it takes just 3 days in Denmark.

We suspect that those 3 days concern share-holder companies; if one just wants to register an official company name and get the necessary VAT-number, it takes about 5 minutes online.



Fact 6 super duper meta ranking

In 2010, Bo Ekman and James Wine of The Tällberg Foundation in Sweden combined 16 different international rankings in order to find out which countries are truly the top tiers. They added each country’s ranking in all 16 surveys and then found the average. This is the top 6:

  1. Sweden 4,44
  2. Norway 6,44
  3. Denmark 7,44
  4. Finland 10,56
  5. Iceland 10,56
  6. Switzerland 13,50:


Other results were:

Germany 14,81
Great Britain 18,56
USA 25,06
South Africa 62,87
Russia 72,13
China 81,33
India 88,93

The results were published in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and seem not to have drawn much attention outside of Sweden.