As the United States celebrates its independence, where does it stand in the world? The glut of global rankings generated by think tanks, nonprofit groups and global agencies gives a jumbled picture of how the U.S. stacks up on everything from happiness to health spending.
For those who think the U.S. is tops, the fact that America is ranked as having the No. 1 "nation brand" in the world won't be surprising, a sign of admiration noted by a market research company in Germany.
Less sunny is the fact that the U.S. is also the first in healthcare costs among developed countries and tops in military spending among all nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, respectively.
The country ranks a robust fifth in global competitiveness, the World Economic Forum found. The World Intellectual Property Organization ranked it 10th in innovation. And it’s 11th in happiness, according to a recent review of studies by economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs.
The U.S. came in 24th in perceived corruption on a Transparency International index — which means people think the government is more corrupt than in Chile, Ireland or Barbados. Save the Children pegged it 25th among the best countries to be a mother, trailing other developed nations because the risk of dying from pregnancy, childbirth or related complications is high. That's evidenced by the fact that the U.S. also ranks 37th in deaths due to complications from preterm births, worse than Burundi or Jordan.
Reporters Without Borders puts the U.S. 47th in press freedom; the U.N. gives it the same ranking in gender equality. And the country falls even lower on giving peace a chance, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, which ranks it 88th on a peacefulness index that factors in murder and incarceration rates, weapons transfers and contributions to U.N. peacekeeping missions.
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Photo: Volunteers raise a U.S. flag at the start line before the 43rd annual Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on Wednesday. Credit: Jason Getz / Associated Press / Atlanta Journal-Constitution