Indexes and surveys abound that measure country performance according to a variety of metrics such as economic growth, stability, justice, transparency, good governance, productivity, democracy, freedom, or even happiness. These however almost always measure countries in isolation. Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor in Britain, has developed “a new way of looking at the world” called the “Good Country Index” (GCI) that measures how much a particular country contributes to the world at large in terms of science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, climate, prosperity, equality, and the health and well-being of humanity.
Using a wide range of reliable data from the U.N. and other international organizations, Anholt and his team have assigned each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between. Anhold is quick to explain that he’s not making moral judgments about countries, but simply determining how they “contribute to the greater good.” He also notes that the GCI is not commenting on the reasons behind any country’s scores. Speaking of which, Canada ranked #12 in between France and Germany (the United States was #21 and the U.K. #7 – click here for the complete chart).
One might ask how this unusual new index is related to global trade, but as Anhold explains in his talk at the TED Summit in Berlin on June 23rd 2014 (video above) the GCI is really an outgrowth of his Anholt-Gfk Roper Nation Brands Index™ which aims to measure the reputation of countries. Anhold maintains that the branding and image of a nation-state “and the successful transference of this image to its exports – is just as important as what they actually produce and sell.” This is also sometimes referred to as “country of origin effect” which describes how consumers’ attitudes, perceptions and purchasing decisions are influenced by products’ country of origin labelling. When Anhold queried the Nation Brands Index dataset to determine why some people prefer one country more than another, the answer he got from it was that the kinds of countries we prefer are so-called “good” countries.