The Netherlands tops the Good Country Index

The Netherlands tops the Good Country Index

This year, the Netherlands has climbed to the top of the Good Country Index. Based on several indicators, this index ranks countries according to what they contribute to the greater good of humanity. 

The Good Country Index

A Good Country is a country that helps its people and does not harm, but preferably furthers the interests of people in other countries as well. No moral judgements are made about the country being assessed.

This year, the Good Country Index published its third edition, with previous editions assessing countries in 2016 and 2014. In this edition, the index focussed on 163 countries and ranked them according to seven categories.

The seven categories were: global contribution to science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, planet and climate, prosperity and equality and health and wellbeing.

For each category, five indicators were used, which were given fractional rankings. The category ranking resulted from calculating the mean of the five indicators, and the overall ranking from the average of the categories. The data used to determine the ranking was from 2014, unless otherwise purported in the results.

The Netherlands took overall first place, in the 2017 edition, scoring particularly well on global contributions to culture, world order and prosperity and equality. In these categories, the Netherlands scored second, third and fourth place respectively. Notably, the Netherlands did not score first place in any one category.

Taking second and third place were Switzerland and Denmark. Switzerland obtained its highest score, second place, in the global contribution to planet and climate, and Denmark also landed second place in the global contribution to prosperity and equality.

Following on from Switzerland and Denmark, Finland and Germany placed fourth and fifth in the Good Country Index. Neither scored first place on any one category. In sixth place is the first of the countries assessed to score first place on a category, namely Sweden, with first place for the global contribution to health and wellbeing.

Finishing at the bottom of the ranking are Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan in respective 161st, 162nd and 163rd place. Libya takes last place in the global contribution to culture.

Science and technology 

In this category, as with the others, five indicators were used to assess countries. The Good Country Index looked at the following factors relative to the size of the economy:

  • The number of international students
  • The number of journal exports
  • The number of international publications
  • Accumulated Nobel Prizes up to 2014
  • Number of patent applications

The Netherlands scored eighth place on this category and was far above average for all indicators except the number of international students who are studying in the Netherlands, for which it scored slightly below average. The top three for this category were Ukraine, Czech Republic and Hungary, taking first, second and third place respectively.


For culture, the index looked at the following indicators:

  • Creative goods exports (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Creative services exports (relative to the size of the economy)
  • UNESCO dues in arrears as a percentage of contribution
  • Freedom of movement without the restriction of a visa
  • Freedom of the press

In this category, the Netherlands scored extremely well, taking second place. Performing slightly better and taking the first place was Belgium. Estonia, Switzerland and Sweden constitute the rest of the top five for global contribution to culture, placing third, fourth and fifth respectively.

International peace and security

When assessing countries according to their global contribution to international peace and security, the following indicators were used:

  • The number of peacekeeping troops sent to UN missions overseas (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Dues in arrears to the UN peace keeping budget as a percentage of the contribution
  • The number of victims of international violent conflict (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Arms exports (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Global Cybersecurity score

On these indicators, the Netherlands does not perform as well as it does for other categories, taking its place at number 27. The top five, in order from first to fifth, for this category are Samoa, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Nigeria.

World order

The world order indicators comprise:

  • Charity giving
  • The number of hosted refugees (relative to the size of the economy)
  • The number of refugees overseas (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Birth rate
  • UN treaties signed up to 2014

The Netherlands takes third place in this category, with second place going to Germany and first place to Austria. Coming in after the Netherlands is Sweden, followed by Malta.

Planet and Climate

The planet and climate indicators explore the following:

  • The 2013 ecological footprint (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Reforestation since 1992
  • Hazardous pesticide exports (relative to the size of the economy)
  • CO2 emissions in 2013 (relative to the size of the economy)
  • The use of substances harmful to the ozone layer (relative to the size of the economy)

In this category, the Netherlands drops four places to number 19, in comparison with the 2016 index. The countries in the top five in this category, from first to fifth, are Iceland, Switzerland, France, Cyprus and Norway.

Prosperity and Equality

In terms of global contribution to prosperity and equality the following indicators were used:

  • Open trade across borders
  • The number of UN volunteers abroad (relative to the size of the economy)
  • The Fairtrade market size (relative to the size of the economy)
  • FDI outflow (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Development assistance (relative to the size of the economy)

Here, the Netherlands takes a spot in the top five, coming in fourth. The other countries in the top five are Ireland, taking first place; Denmark, coming in second; Sweden, in third place and Switzerland at fifth place.

Health and wellbeing

In this category, the following factors were used to rank countries:

  • Food aid (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Pharmaceutical exports (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Voluntary excess donations to the World Health Organisation (relative to the size of the economy)
  • Humanitarian aid donations (relative to the size of the economy)
  • International health regulation compliance

In this last category, the Netherlands takes ninth place. The top five consist of, from first to fifth, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, United Kingdom and Norway.

The top 10 Good Countries

Averaging all the categories gave each country a final score. Here are the top 10 Good Countries:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Switzerland
  3. Denmark
  4. Finland
  5. Germany
  6. Sweden
  7. Ireland
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Austria
  10. Norway

For more information take a look at the Good Country website.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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CasinoNews 15:08 | 14 December 2017

No surprise why this happened. I am happy for them.

Richard Medina 17:19 | 14 December 2017

I guess the good countries come from Europe.