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A Look at How America Ranks

In his first year in office, President Trump has promoted his “America first” philosophy. This new focus, with its trade protectionism and tough stance on immigration, has somewhat changed the U.S. narrative on a world scale.1

Considering this new emphasis on America first, perhaps it’s worth looking at how the U.S. ranks on the world stage, according to various lists measuring financial health, happiness, education and more.

One of the most watched rankings for financial health is the annual World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, which covers 137 economies and ranks the U.S. as No. 2. The Global Competitiveness Index measures national competitiveness, which includes a variety of institutions, policies and factors that determine each country’s level of productivity. The following are the top 10 countries ranked by the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index:2

  1. Switzerland
  2. United States
  3. Singapore
  4. Netherlands
  5. Germany
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Sweden
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Japan
  10. Finland

According to the recently released “2018 Best Countries” listing from U.S. News & World Report, America is ranked No. 8 behind Switzerland, Canada, Germany, the U.K., Japan, Sweden and Australia.3 The Best Countries rating is based on opinions of over 21,000 people from 36 countries in a wide variety of categories, including business friendliness, entrepreneurship, citizenship, power, quality of life, cultural influence and more.4

However, America gets lower marks in the rankings of countries with the happiest residents. The U.S. came in 19th in the 2017 World Happiness Report; Norway was No. 1. This study measures countries by ways they support happiness, such as quality of work, health care and social foundations.5

Perhaps one of the reasons Americans aren’t as happy as some other nations’ citizens has to do with our infrastructure — particularly relating to transportation. One global study of vehicular traffic found the U.S. is home to 10 of the top 25 worst cities for traffic. The study, composed of 1,360 cities in 38 countries, measures the cost of sitting in traffic due to factors such as loss of worker productivity, wasted fuel and the high cost of transporting goods in traffic. Overall as a country, the U.S. ranked fifth.6

The results are mixed when it comes to education rankings. One of the latest rankings placed U.S. 15-year-olds at 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science.7

However, the U.S. ranks highest in “QS World University Rankings by Subject.” The most recent rankings place U.S. higher education institutions at No. 1 in 34 of 48 categories.8

And finally, there is one category in which America excels in vast numbers: The largest number of billionaires. Presently, the world’s billionaires account for a record $9.1 trillion combined, which is up 18 percent from a year ago.9 Seven of the top 10 billionaires in the world call the U.S. home:10

  1. Jeff Bezos (Amazon, U.S.)
  2. Bill Gates (Microsoft, U.S.)
  3. Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway, U.S.)
  4. Bernard Arnault (LVMH, France)
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, U.S.)
  6. Amancio Ortega (Zara, Spain)
  7. Carlos Slim Helu (telecom, Mexico)
  8. Charles Koch (Koch Industries, U.S.)
  9. David Koch (Koch Industries, U.S.)
  10. Larry Ellison (software, U.S.)

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 1 Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum. The Washington Post. Jan. 20, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-year-of-trumps-america-first-agenda-has-radically-changed-the-us-role-in-the-world/2018/01/20/c1258aa6-f7cf-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.aa4bcbfc56c0. Accessed March 22, 2018.

2 Klaus Schwab. World Economic Forum. 2017. “The Global Competitiveness Report

2017–2018.” Page ix. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2017-2018/05FullReport/TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2017–2018.pdf. Accessed March 9, 2018.

3 U.S. News & World Report. 2018. “Overall Best Countries Ranking.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/overall-full-list. Accessed March 22, 2018.

4 Deidre McPhillips. U.S. News & World Report. Jan. 23, 2018. “Methodology: How the 2018 Best Countries Were Ranked.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/methodology. Accessed March 22, 2018.

5 United Nations. 2017. “World Happiness Report 2017.” http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/. Accessed March 9, 2018.

6 INRIX, Inc. Feb. 5, 2018. “Los Angeles Tops INRIX Global Congestion Ranking.” http://inrix.com/press-releases/scorecard-2017/. Accessed March 22, 2018.

7 Drew Desilver. Pew Research Center. Feb. 15, 2017. “U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/. Accessed March 9, 2018.

8 Patrick Atack. The Pie News. Feb. 28, 2018. “QS World University Rankings show US still top, but Asia rising.” https://thepienews.com/news/qs-world-university-rankings-show-us-still-top-but-asia-rising/. Accessed March 9, 2018.

9 Luisa Kroll. Forbes. March 6, 2018. “Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet the Richest People on the Planet.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/luisakroll/2018/03/06/forbes-billionaires-2018-meet-the-richest-people-on-the-planet/#5256507f6523. Accessed March 9, 2018.

10 Forbes. 2018. “The World’s Billionaires.” https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static. Accessed March 9, 2018.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.



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Danielle Christensen


Danielle is dedicated to serving clients to achieve their retirement goals. As a Paraplanner, Danielle helps the advisors with the administrative side of preparing and documenting meetings. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, with a degree in Business Administration and began working with Secured Retirement in May of 2023.

Danielle is a lifelong Minnesotan and currently resides in Farmington with her boyfriend and their senior rescue pittie/American Bulldog mix, Tukka.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys attending concerts and traveling. She is also an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild and loves to be at as many games as possible during the season!