Where’s my country?

Yes, there are around 40 countries missing from the Good Country Index (including Taiwan, Cuba, Bhutan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and several other beautiful, ancient, much-loved and highly respectable nations).

There is only ever one reason for this: because we don’t have enough data to give them a reliable ranking. And if the United Nations and the other organisations don’t collect or don’t publish the data, there’s nothing we can do about it except wait until they do.

It’s NOT because we’ve accidentally left them out, or we’ve never heard of them, or don’t consider them a proper country, or because we’re afraid of offending some other country that doesn’t consider them a proper country, or because their scores are too low.

Technical Stuff:

All countries with missing data on more than 2 out of 5 indicators on any category are excluded. The two exceptions to this rule in the first edition (1.0) of the Good Country Index are Iceland and Georgia, which both have 3 missing values on the Planet and Climate” category, but only 4 and 5 missing values overall.

Since the rankings are based on mean scores per category and missing values are ignored, the countries included in the Index are neither rewarded nor punished for any non-reporting.

It’s not fair to penalise poor countries by ranking them low in the Good Country Index

For most indicators, each country’s score in the Good Country Index is divided by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) so that smaller and poorer countries aren’t unduly penalised in the ranking for their limited ability to make a difference’ in the world. This is in consideration of the fact that 24 out of the 35 indicators are positive indicators and hence large countries would automatically perform better in the index if we did not adjust for size.

And if you take a look at the 35 datasets we use to calculate the Good Country rankings, you’ll see that only a small handful of them are directly related to money. The Good Country Index is definitely not a list of the biggest contributors to foreign aid: our definition of a good” country is much broader than that. 

It’s also important to emphasize that the Good Country Index isn’t passing any kind of judgment on countries, nor is it commenting on the reasons behind any country’s scores. It is certainly true that countries which need to focus on severe domestic challenges tend to be more concerned about their own populations and their own stability than those of other countries. Maybe this is right, and maybe it’s not: one for further discussion. 

Did you try other normalisations such as GNI or per capita?

Yes. As it happens, the ranking is not hugely sensitive to different normalisations. A per capita normalisation is equally legitimate but it does tend to punish impoverished countries, which is something we wanted to avoid.

You’ve included several territories in the list which aren’t sovereign states. Why is this?

We include any territory that reports enough accurate data for it to be ranked in the Good Country Index. No judgment is implied about the sovereign status, or otherwise, of any territory included in the list: these are all places that behave like countries to the extent of measuring and reporting their behaviour to the United Nations and other international agencies as if they were countries, and that’s good enough for us.

Nation-states are in decline anyway. In the future, it’ll be cities that influence how the world works.

This may be true, but for the time being, it’s national laws that fundamentally shape the behaviour of the seven billion people on the planet; and it’s only nations that measure and report on their behaviours in a way that can feed into a study like this. A Good City Index is being considered, but everything depends on the availability and the reliability of the data we can obtain.