2021 Legatum Prosperity Index™

The Legatum Prosperity Index™ has been designed to be a transformational tool to help enable targeted policy responses that can drive tangible improvements in prosperity.

A report for the Legatum Prosperity Index™ programme

Published 15 Nov 2021

The 15th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index™

The Legatum Prosperity Index™ analyses the performance of 167 nations across 67 policy-focused elements, measured by 300 country-level indicators. The Index enables us to construct a thoroughly comprehensive picture of prosperity, across its institutional, economic, and social dimensions. It is our ambition that leaders around the world will use the Index to help set their agendas for growth and development, and that it will enable others to hold them to account.

The indicators used in the Index are organised into 12 pillars which are grouped into three domains essential to prosperity:

  • Inclusive Societies: Safety and Security, Personal Freedom, Governance, and Social Capital
  • Open Economies: Investment Environment, Enterprise Conditions, Infrastructure and Market Access, and Economic Quality
  • Empowered People: Living Conditions, Health, Education, and Natural Environment

Using the Prosperity Index framework, nations around the world can assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to determine the economic and strategic choices that need to be made to drive greater levels of prosperity.

Key Findings

Having seen global prosperity improve steadily between 2015 and 2019, this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index finds that prosperity has plateaued for the second year running.

Whilst the plateauing of prosperity has been caused — at least in part — by the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also been driven by the concerning erosion of many of the core features that underpin prosperity. Specifically, we have seen an ongoing deterioration in Political Accountability and Freedom of Speech and Assembly in most regions of the world.

We have also seen prosperity stall for the second successive year in the world’s two most prosperous regions (North America and Western Europe), while in the least prosperous region (sub-Saharan Africa), it has improved for the 11th year in a row.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a major increase in global mortality. Countries around the world reported almost five million deaths from COVID-19 from the beginning of pandemic until the end of October 2021.
  • Alongside the pandemic’s impact on global health, we have seen Economic Quality deteriorate sharply in all regions as the impact of COVID-19 responses reverberates, with North America the region experiencing the greatest decline.
  • Preceding the response to the pandemic, there had already been a concerning long-term erosion of many of the core features of free societies. Global prosperity has been weakened by the continuing deterioration of many of the key facets of Governance, which have deteriorated for the third successive year. In addition, there has been a deterioration in Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly across all regions which has been correlated with the weakening of political accountability.
  • And, over the last decade, prosperity has been further impacted as both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly have weakened across all regions.
  • Into this context it is concerning that the world’s two most prosperous regions have been the main contributors to the stalling of global prosperity — North America and Western Europe. In particular, both the United States and Canada have seen prosperity weaken over the past two years. While the impact of COVID, and the resulting actions taken, have driven the decline in prosperity since 2020, the deterioration in Governance since 2019 has also contributed to the downward trend in prosperity in both countries.
  • Finally, our 2021 Prosperity Index reveals that the bright light in a world of stagnating prosperity has been sub-Saharan Africa with its modest but consistent progress, despite a deterioration in the continent’s safety and security. The prosperity of 40 out of 49 countries improved over the past decade, and the rate of extreme poverty has dropped across the region from 49.9% to 42.3% of the population. Much of this progress has been driven by steady improvements in Health and in Infrastructure.

The Index shows that, overall, Denmark is the most prosperous country in the world, followed by Norway and Sweden. North America remains the most prosperous region, followed by Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

To learn more about prosperity and explore how the regions and individual countries around the world perform across the 12 pillars of prosperity, download the 2021 report or visit prosperity.com.


2021 Legatum Prosperity Index™:

The 15th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index™

Nov 2021

Download the reportPDF 24 MB