If the United Nations gave out MVP trophies for entire countries, Sweden would win hands-down.
According to a new report called the "Good Country Index," which ranked 163 countries by their contributions to the global community, Sweden takes the top spot overall. In individual categories, the tiny Nordic scored first in measures of Prosperity & Equality and Health & Wellbeing.
"Sweden must be bored of coming top in every bloody country index but that's the fact of the matter," Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor and the Index's creator, told The Local.
As Anholt suggests, Sweden is no stranger to topping lists of innovative countries. Last September, for instance, it ranked third in the Global Innovation Index, most notably for its elite research universities. Within the last four years, it has never fallen outside the top three.
To compile the Good Country Index, Anholt created 35 separate categories that he eventually distilled into seven big buckets: Science & Technology, Culture, International Peace & Security, World Order, Planet & Climate, Prosperity & Equality, and Health & Wellbeing.
The data came from sources like the United Nations and the World Bank, the Local reports.
Sweden's dominance in the equality and wellbeing categories stems from its insistence on human rights for all, both stateside and abroad. Sweden's parental leave policy, for instance, is one of the most generous in the world -- new moms and dads take 480 days, 90 of which are reserved for fathers only as a way to promote bonding.
It also frequently sends its own doctors to help with health crises in other countries and provide aid during pandemics.
Given its heavy arms exports and refugee-related conflicts, however, Sweden's lowest-performing categories were International Peace & Security, where it placed 52nd, and World Order, where it came in at 11th.
Those kinds of insights are precisely what Anholt says he wanted to illuminate. Instead of competing against one another, he'd like countries to see the report as an incentive to cooperate.
A country with strong social innovation like Sweden could teach the US, which ranked 46th in Prosperity & Equality and 12th in Health & Wellbeing, a thing or two about making people's live easier. Meanwhile, a country like South Africa, which ranked first in International Peace & Security, could steer a country like Sweden away from relying on selling weapons to boost its economy.
The United States came in 21st. Its strongest category was Health & Wellbeing, for which it came in 12th out of 163, but even with the admirable ranking Sweden beat out the US in every category.
Maybe it's finally time to pack our bags and become do-gooder Swedes.
The top 5:
3. The Netherlands
4. United Kingdom