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Which country is richest in the world?

Determining which country is the richest in the world is not a straightforward task. There are many different ways to measure a country’s wealth and economic success. Some common metrics used include gross domestic product (GDP), GDP per capita, standard of living, life expectancy, access to education and healthcare, and economic inequality. Using these and other factors provides a more comprehensive assessment of national prosperity than looking at GDP alone.

GDP per capita

One of the most frequently cited statistics is GDP per capita, which measures a country’s economic output per person. By this metric, the richest countries in 2022 are:

Rank Country GDP per capita
1 Luxembourg $129,941
2 Ireland $99,403
3 Qatar $94,744
4 Singapore $94,100
5 Brunei $83,985

Luxembourg, a small European country with a robust financial sector, has topped the GDP per capita rankings for several years. However, looking only at GDP per capita has limitations. Countries with small populations and substantial natural resources, like Qatar and Brunei, can rank highly on this metric due to oil and gas exports while having high levels of inequality.

Standard of living

The standard of living goes beyond economic factors to consider quality of life measures. The OECD Better Life Index looks at 11 topics covering material living conditions and quality of life. Based on 2018 data, the top 10 countries for overall life satisfaction are:

Rank Country
1 Norway
2 Denmark
3 Iceland
4 Switzerland
5 Finland
6 Netherlands
7 Sweden
8 New Zealand
9 Canada
10 Austria

The top rankings are dominated by Nordic countries like Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden. These countries tend to have high life expectancy, access to education, environmental quality, work-life balance, and overall satisfaction scores. However, they tend to score lower on income and housing affordability.

Economic inequality

Looking at how prosperity is distributed within a country is another important gauge. Countries with higher inequality can have poor standards of living for large segments of the population, even if the GDP per capita is high. The most equal countries, according to the Gini coefficient (where 0 is perfect equality) are:

Rank Country Gini coefficient
1 Ukraine 25.0
2 Slovenia 25.6
3 Czech Republic 25.9
4 Slovakia 26.0
5 Iceland 26.1
6 Belarus 26.3
7 Moldova 26.8
8 Norway 26.9
9 Belgium 27.2
10 Czechia 27.5

Many eastern European countries, like Ukraine and Slovenia, have the most economic equality by this metric. Highly developed countries like Norway and Iceland are also among the most equal. However, equality alone does not necessarily mean high prosperity if standards of living are also low.

Access to education

Education is crucial for economic prosperity and life outcomes. The United Nations uses the Education Index, comprised of average years of schooling and expected school years, to compare access to education globally. According to the UN’s latest Human Development Report, the countries with the highest Education Index scores are:

Rank Country Education Index
1 Australia 0.927
2 New Zealand 0.923
3 Finland 0.923
4 Slovenia 0.923
5 Germany 0.916
6 Sweden 0.916
7 United Kingdom 0.916
8 Norway 0.915
9 Switzerland 0.915
10 Ireland 0.914

Developed countries in Europe and the Anglosphere lead in providing access to education for their citizens. Educational attainment is correlated with higher income, better health, increased life satisfaction and a range of other benefits.

Healthcare access and quality

Along with education, access to quality healthcare dramatically improves standards of living and life expectancy. The Legatum Prosperity Index assesses healthcare based on several indicators including health infrastructure and preventative care. According to the 2021 index, the top 10 countries for healthcare are:

Rank Country
1 Norway
2 Netherlands
3 Switzerland
4 Australia
5 Finland
6 Sweden
7 Singapore
8 Japan
9 France
10 Austria

The leaders in healthcare access are mainly prosperous European nations and East Asia, with Norway and the Netherlands at the top. The strong healthcare systems in these nations positively contribute to their high standards of living.

Human development

The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) measures national achievement in health, education, and standard of living. It provides a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators. The latest HDI rankings from 2019 are:

Rank Country HDI
1 Norway 0.954
2 Switzerland 0.946
3 Ireland 0.942
4 Germany 0.939
5 Hong Kong, China (SAR) 0.939
6 Australia 0.938
7 Iceland 0.938
8 Sweden 0.937
9 Singapore 0.935
10 Netherlands 0.933

The HDI again highlights northern European nations like Norway and Switzerland that excel in health, education, and economic outcomes. The top countries provide the conditions and policies to allow human development to thrive.

Economic competitiveness

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index considers factors that contribute to sustained economic success. The 2019 rankings weigh metrics related to institutions, infrastructure, innovation, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, and more. The most competitive economies in the index are:

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

The most competitive economies include small, trade-dependent nations like Singapore and Hong Kong, along with regional powers like the United States and economic leaders in Europe. Innovation, technological readiness, and transparent institutions help these countries stay productive and robust.


Determining the world’s richest country depends on whether you prioritize GDP per capita, standard of living, equality, or overall competitiveness as the key metric for national prosperity. By most measures, the countries of Northern Europe, including Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, rank near the top. These nations tend to have high scores for education, healthcare, social support, governance, and overall life satisfaction. But countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland also excel in specific measures like economic competitiveness and ease of doing business.

While GDP gets the most attention, looking at a range of factors provides a more nuanced look at national prosperity. A country’s wealth also depends on how it is used to benefit the well-being of its citizens now and invest for the future. Effective policies, institutions, and social safety nets allow countries to translate economic success into high living standards that are broadly shared across the population.