Marin Community Foundation
A Good Reputation
Research

The World's Most Reputable Countries 2016: U.S. Ranks 28th

Originally published by Forbes [link] on June 24, 2016

What is it about Scandinavia that makes the nations there so trustworthy? It turns out that countries in that part of the globe are indeed considered some of the most reputable on the planet, if public perception is to be believed.

Nations throughout the world are always interested in looking good and commanding respect—whether it’s to attract international business or mere vanity. Now we have a better idea which countries are considered the most reputable, thanks to the annual survey by The Reputation Institute (RI), a reputation-management consulting firm based in Boston that launched in 1997. Since it’s founding, the firm has offered corporate clients strategies and insights into how they might gauge and improve their reputation among customers in various markets around the globe. This year, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark all found their way into the top 10.

We packed this year’s Top 20 Most Reputable Countries – as compiled by RI – into a photo gallery

RI’s ranking system is based on online surveys of 48,000 within G8 countries compiled this spring on 16 attributes, such as: is a country a safe place to visit? Is it beautiful? Is it friendly and welcoming to residents? Does it have progressive social and economic policies? Is it run by an effective government? And other questions.

The Top 3

Topping the list this year is Sweden, which jumps two spots up from its third place berth in 2015. Sweden received the highest marks among all countries for perception of an effective government, and ranked second among respondents for appealing environment and in the nature of its advanced economy. It is seen by many as safe and welcoming.

In second place this year is 2015’s first place: Canada, the only nation in the Top-10 from the Americas. The next highest ranked American country was Costa Rica (No. 22), Peru (No. 23) and Brazil (No. 24). The United States ranked 28th on the list, in between Poland and Argentina. Like many in the Top-10, Canada is seen, according to RI’s survey, as happy, peaceful and relatively free of corruption.

Switzerland placed third on this latest ranking, not surprising as the European nation has lingered among the top ranked nations for the past several years. It ranked most reputable in 2014. This year it again was seen as peaceful and unhampered by corruption and, behind Denmark, the happiest nation within the survey.

The Bottom

On the low end of the spectrum, nations with poor reputations tend to be ones going through periods of instability or under dictatorships, RI reports. For instance, Iraq ranked 70th on the list, and Pakistan 68th.

For a closer looker at the bottom 10, check out the tail end of the list below

61. Kazakhstan (RepTrak Pulse score: 41.58)

62. Nicaragua (RepTrak Pulse score: 41.08)

63. Angola (RepTrak Pulse score: 40.95)

64. Algeria (RepTrak Pulse score: 40.52)

65. Russia (RepTrak Pulse score: 39.82)

66. Nigeria (RepTrak Pulse score: 36.37)

67. Saudi Arabia (RepTrak Pulse score: 36.32)

68. Pakistan (RepTrak Pulse score: 31.03)

69. Iran (RepTrak Pulse score: 29.74)

70. Iraq (RepTrak Pulse score: 24.56)

Improvements And Declines

Nations that enjoyed the biggest improvements over their 2015 scores were France (+4.9 points), Russia (+4.7 points) and Peru (+2.9 points). In the case of France, despite taking a 4-point hit in the safety department (likely due to the ISIS attacks in November) more respondents said they would like to visit or live in France than did last year.

The nations that dropped the most points include Turkey (-7 points), Saudi Arabia (-4.7 points) and Belgium (-4.3 points). In the case of Belgium, it was the safety category that undercut the country’s reputation, likely due to the March terrorist bombings in Brussels and revelations about neighborhoods within that city possibly acting as an organizing locale for terrorists. Turkey also bore the brunt of terrorism, with two fatal bombings earlier this year.

Big Disconnects

Sometimes nations feel they are respectable but the rest of the world sees things differently. The biggest disconnect between self-image and global reality in 2016, according to RI, is in the case of Russia. Overall the nation received a score of 39.82 and ranked in 65th place out of 70. But, respondents within the nation scored their country a whopping 80.8—that’s a 41-point difference! Russia’s ‘self-score’ of 80.8 is higher than any score that any nation actually received in the final RepTrak Pulse scoring results.

China too has a much rosier opinion of itself than does the rest of the world. The Asian giant scored 44.1 on the reputation scale (ranked 57) but respondents within China scored the country at 76.4. That’s a 32.3-point disconnect. India, which scored 50.3 (44th place) scored itself an 81.6—a difference of 31.3 points and an even higher self-image score than Russia.

Nations with inferiority complexes – those that scored themselves lower than did respondents overall – include South Africa, which gave itself a score of 29.3 while its overall scored was 49.2. Italy, which was rated 71.7, scored itself 57.1; and Brazil scored itself at 47.5 while achieving an overall score of 57.8.

Trends

National reputation, even if based on perception, can have a strong impact on a country’s economics and influence. Being seen as trustworthy and respectable can draw more tourists, foreign business and investments, imports and improve diplomatic relations.

A trend within RI’s survey of national reputation is that the most powerful nations tend not to score highest on the reputation scale. For example: the U.S., which ranked highest in GDP and foreign investment, came in 28th place. China, which trumps all other countries in the categories of population and exports, ranked 57th in reputability.