american flag at sunset

The American flag at sunset (Photo by iStrfry , Marcus on Unsplash)

WÜRZBURG, Germany — What qualities does a well-run country have? A democratic government? Good-paying jobs for its people? Efficient healthcare? It turns out that what many Americans consider the key ingredients to a successful state doesn’t even get the United States into the world’s top 20! According to a new “stateness” index created by researchers in Germany, living in a democracy is optional when it comes to ranking the best states around the world.

“We can see the state in everything that surrounds us, for example in the streets, the courts, the police or the schools,” says Theresa Paola Stawski, a political scientist from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU).

Stawski adds that the idea of “the state” is more than just the people in charge of the federal government and the states and municipalities within that country. The researcher further explains that a patient quickly receiving a doctor’s appointment when they need an X-ray, children having a large selection of schools to go to, and communities having plenty of electricity day or night are all examples of well-functioning states.

With that in mind, the rankings for 2022 place a somewhat surprising country at the top of the world — Singapore. The small Asian nation of roughly 5.5 million people finished ahead of Australia (2nd), Denmark (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), and Estonia (5th) to round out the top five on the list of 173 countries.

We’re number… 23?

While the researchers still list the United States as a “high functioning state,” America couldn’t break into the top 20, finishing in 23rd place. The United States finished just ahead of the Czech Republic, Austria, and Canada, but way behind other world powers such as Germany (10th), the United Kingdom (13th), and France (20th). Interestingly, the fact that the U.S. has the longest standing democracy does not help its ranking when it comes to being a well-run state.

“Whether a state functions well or not does not always have something to do with democracy,” says Stawski in a university release.

Researchers note that Singapore, for example, is not a democracy. The United Arab Emirates (32nd) also received the designation of a high functioning state.

“The State is an institutionalized social and political order and organization of hierarchical authority that is in exclusive control of the Monopoly of Law, Monopoly of Violence, and Monopoly of Administration throughout a given territory and its inhabitants,” the German team writes on their rankings’ site.

“Stateness as the performance of institutions denotes that a state can insert and uphold the laws enacted by the regime, possesses the means necessary to control both territory and populations and commands a bureaucratic infrastructure to implement and exert territorial sovereignty throughout the state territory.”

‘Stateness’ Index – 2022 Rankings

Rank Country Total Value  Classification Monopoly of  Monopoly of Monopoly of
Index Law Violence Administration
1 Singapore 0,930 High functioning State 0,879 0,959 0,953
2 Australia 0,919 High functioning State 0,929 0,926 0,902
3 Denmark 0,914 High functioning State 0,908 0,921 0,913
4 Netherlands 0,906 High functioning State 0,904 0,922 0,892
5 Estonia 0,906 High functioning State 0,925 0,950 0,846
6 Luxembourg 0,906 High functioning State 0,871 0,967 0,882
7 Norway 0,900 High functioning State 0,903 0,876 0,923
8 Belgium 0,900 High functioning State 0,886 0,929 0,885
9 New Zealand 0,900 High functioning State 0,910 0,920 0,869
10 Germany 0,899 High functioning State 0,938 0,890 0,871
11 Finland 0,894 High functioning State 0,919 0,908 0,856
12 Seychelles 0,890 High functioning State 0,901 0,922 0,847
13 United Kingdom 0,881 High functioning State 0,903 0,918 0,824
14 Sweden 0,872 High functioning State 0,876 0,896 0,845
15 Portugal 0,872 High functioning State 0,885 0,920 0,814
16 Latvia 0,864 High functioning State 0,859 0,918 0,819
17 Uruguay 0,862 High functioning State 0,884 0,934 0,775
18 Switzerland 0,861 High functioning State 0,920 0,807 0,861
19 Japan 0,861 High functioning State 0,892 0,806 0,888
20 France 0,860 High functioning State 0,881 0,835 0,864
21 Spain 0,857 High functioning State 0,886 0,958 0,742
22 Malta 0,849 High functioning State 0,853 0,903 0,796
23 United States of America 0,849 High functioning State 0,894 0,831 0,824
24 Czechia 0,848 High functioning State 0,792 0,969 0,795
25 Austria 0,847 High functioning State 0,882 0,865 0,798
26 Canada 0,846 High functioning State 0,847 0,871 0,820
27 Barbados 0,844 High functioning State 0,809 0,929 0,800
28 South Korea 0,843 High functioning State 0,815 0,911 0,808
29 Ireland 0,840 High functioning State 0,820 0,865 0,838
30 Lithuania 0,838 High functioning State 0,884 0,814 0,819
31 Costa Rica 0,838 High functioning State 0,892 0,891 0,741
32 United Arab Emirates 0,831 High functioning State 0,865 0,856 0,776
33 Slovenia 0,829 High functioning State 0,777 0,893 0,821
34 Iceland 0,816 High functioning State 0,884 0,744 0,827
35 Botswana 0,807 High functioning State 0,829 0,896 0,707
36 Chile 0,807 High functioning State 0,883 0,791 0,751
37 Slovakia 0,804 High functioning State 0,830 0,877 0,714
38 Italy 0,803 High functioning State 0,857 0,793 0,761
39 Jamaica 0,802 High functioning State 0,848 0,811 0,751
40 Israel 0,802 High functioning State 0,881 0,720 0,812
41 Poland 0,794 High functioning State 0,853 0,823 0,713
42 Trinidad and Tobago 0,788 High functioning State 0,707 0,882 0,784
43 Taiwan 0,773 High functioning State 0,738 0,802 0,781
44 Bulgaria 0,772 Moderate functioning State 0,752 0,930 0,658
45 Greece 0,772 High functioning State 0,802 0,753 0,761
46 Montenegro 0,770 High functioning State 0,697 0,911 0,719
47 Hungary 0,770 Moderate functioning State 0,766 0,858 0,693
48 Oman 0,753 Moderate functioning State 0,865 0,729 0,678
49 Bhutan 0,745 High functioning State 0,696 0,736 0,808
50 Argentina 0,724 Moderate functioning State 0,684 0,814 0,681
51 The Gambia 0,723 Moderate functioning State 0,687 0,835 0,659
52 Qatar 0,719 Moderate functioning State 0,733 0,814 0,624
53 Indonesia 0,717 Moderate functioning State 0,737 0,782 0,639
54 Croatia 0,710 Moderate functioning State 0,621 0,882 0,653
55 Romania 0,706 Moderate functioning State 0,831 0,816 0,519
56 Vanuatu 0,704 Moderate functioning State 0,767 0,841 0,540
57 Cuba 0,703 Moderate functioning State 0,810 0,758 0,565
58 Suriname 0,702 Moderate functioning State 0,730 0,714 0,663
59 Maldives 0,700 Moderate functioning State 0,757 0,824 0,550
60 Kuwait 0,697 Moderate functioning State 0,811 0,685 0,609
61 China 0,697 Moderate functioning State 0,844 0,718 0,558
62 Serbia 0,683 Moderate functioning State 0,661 0,750 0,643
63 Saudi Arabia 0,681 Moderate functioning State 0,794 0,765 0,520
64 Namibia 0,679 Moderate functioning State 0,799 0,789 0,498
65 Panama 0,678 Moderate functioning State 0,744 0,642 0,654
66 Jordan 0,677 Moderate functioning State 0,696 0,786 0,567
67 Albania 0,672 Moderate functioning State 0,655 0,825 0,562
68 North Korea 0,666 Defective State 0,790 0,782 0,479
69 Guyana 0,661 Defective State 0,713 0,837 0,483
70 Russia 0,661 Moderate functioning State 0,769 0,730 0,514
71 Brazil 0,661 Moderate functioning State 0,704 0,670 0,611
72 Kazakhstan 0,657 Moderate functioning State 0,665 0,741 0,576
73 Malaysia 0,655 Moderate functioning State 0,547 0,799 0,645
74 Cape Verde 0,652 Defective State 0,759 0,888 0,412
75 Benin 0,650 Moderate functioning State 0,719 0,630 0,606
76 Vietnam 0,648 Defective State 0,719 0,785 0,483
77 Ghana 0,648 Defective State 0,793 0,791 0,434
78 Thailand 0,646 Moderate functioning State 0,673 0,679 0,590
79 Mongolia 0,634 Defective State 0,633 0,869 0,464
80 Mauritius 0,633 Moderate functioning State 0,714 0,515 0,690
81 Kenya 0,633 Moderate functioning State 0,822 0,617 0,500
82 Tanzania 0,632 Moderate functioning State 0,729 0,515 0,674
83 Ecuador 0,630 Defective State 0,708 0,764 0,462
84 Zambia 0,629 Defective State 0,841 0,843 0,351
85 South Africa 0,629 Defective State 0,797 0,873 0,358
86 Sri Lanka 0,628 Moderate functioning State 0,591 0,824 0,508
87 North Macedonia 0,628 Moderate functioning State 0,564 0,783 0,561
88 Uganda 0,616 Defective State 0,710 0,733 0,450
89 Algeria 0,616 Defective State 0,625 0,804 0,465
90 Philippines 0,612 Defective State 0,773 0,772 0,384
91 Georgia 0,612 Moderate functioning State 0,635 0,533 0,676
92 Uzbekistan 0,607 Defective State 0,643 0,813 0,428
93 Fiji 0,596 Defective State 0,738 0,752 0,381
94 Eswatini 0,594 Defective State 0,616 0,701 0,484
95 Sao Tome and Principe 0,590 Defective State 0,820 0,789 0,318
96 Turkey 0,590 Moderate functioning State 0,730 0,560 0,501
97 Morocco 0,588 Defective State 0,627 0,694 0,468
98 Sierra Leone 0,581 Defective State 0,768 0,600 0,425
99 Mexico 0,578 Defective State 0,701 0,649 0,425
100 Kosovo 0,576 Moderate functioning State 0,580 0,554 0,594
101 Angola 0,575 Defective State 0,726 0,736 0,355
102 Cyprus 0,572 Defective State 0,680 0,370 0,742
103 Moldova 0,566 Defective State 0,751 0,403 0,600
104 Kyrgyzstan 0,564 Defective State 0,518 0,771 0,450
105 Laos 0,562 Defective State 0,588 0,717 0,421
106 Peru 0,561 Defective State 0,759 0,601 0,387
107 Malawi 0,555 Profound defective State 0,735 0,885 0,262
108 Lesotho 0,555 Defective State 0,654 0,666 0,391
109 Colombia 0,554 Defective State 0,740 0,581 0,396
110 India 0,553 Defective State 0,660 0,653 0,391
111 Turkmenistan 0,551 Defective State 0,674 0,707 0,350
112 Dominican Republic 0,550 Profound defective State 0,750 0,769 0,289
113 Timor-Leste 0,544 Defective State 0,786 0,627 0,326
114 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0,543 Defective State 0,488 0,606 0,540
115 Senegal 0,538 Defective State 0,712 0,602 0,364
116 Armenia 0,533 Defective State 0,451 0,644 0,520
117 Bolivia 0,532 Defective State 0,698 0,450 0,479
118 Zimbabwe 0,532 Defective State 0,714 0,648 0,325
119 Gabon 0,520 Defective State 0,577 0,577 0,421
120 El Salvador 0,516 Defective State 0,656 0,648 0,322
121 Ivory Coast 0,514 Defective State 0,716 0,619 0,307
122 Honduras 0,511 Defective State 0,563 0,547 0,433
123 Belarus 0,505 Profound defective State 0,287 0,735 0,611
124 Bangladesh 0,504 Profound defective State 0,555 0,828 0,278
125 Nepal 0,500 Profound defective State 0,720 0,637 0,272
126 Rwanda 0,494 Profound defective State 0,654 0,726 0,253
127 Mauritania 0,486 Profound defective State 0,695 0,685 0,241
128 Djibouti 0,483 Defective State 0,558 0,602 0,336
129 Ukraine 0,482 Defective State 0,528 0,366 0,580
130 Nicaragua 0,481 Defective State 0,599 0,565 0,329
131 Burundi 0,478 Profound defective State 0,635 0,718 0,240
132 Iran 0,476 Defective State 0,543 0,459 0,434
133 Egypt 0,473 Profound defective State 0,709 0,587 0,255
134 Burkina Faso 0,473 Defective State 0,518 0,304 0,674
135 Solomon Islands 0,473 Profound defective State 0,728 0,559 0,260
136 Nigeria 0,471 Defective State 0,713 0,490 0,300
137 Paraguay 0,458 Defective State 0,606 0,490 0,325
138 Cambodia 0,449 Defective State 0,514 0,528 0,333
139 Madagascar 0,448 Defective State 0,571 0,447 0,353
140 Togo 0,445 Defective State 0,581 0,445 0,342
141 Sudan 0,441 Defective State 0,650 0,373 0,355
142 Azerbaijan 0,439 Profound defective State 0,492 0,595 0,289
143 Tajikistan 0,437 Profound defective State 0,548 0,573 0,265
144 Comoros 0,434 Defective State 0,422 0,371 0,523
145 Cameroon 0,424 Profound defective State 0,577 0,564 0,235
146 Mozambique 0,415 Profound defective State 0,631 0,533 0,212
147 Mali 0,401 Profound defective State 0,674 0,360 0,267
148 Guatemala 0,397 Profound defective State 0,513 0,532 0,230
149 Iraq 0,388 Defective State 0,343 0,540 0,316
150 Pakistan 0,388 Profound defective State 0,463 0,520 0,243
151 Equatorial Guinea 0,377 Profound defective State 0,604 0,646 0,137
152 Bahrain 0,374 Profound defective State 0,151 0,629 0,551
153 Guinea-Bissau 0,368 Profound defective State 0,489 0,416 0,245
154 Lebanon 0,363 Defective State 0,327 0,346 0,425
155 Burma/Myanmar 0,357 Profound defective State 0,695 0,220 0,297
156 Eritrea 0,356 Profound defective State 0,613 0,439 0,168
157 Liberia 0,345 Profound defective State 0,572 0,620 0,116
158 Niger 0,345 Profound defective State 0,677 0,334 0,181
159 Guinea 0,331 Profound defective State 0,498 0,294 0,249
160 Democratic Republic of the Congo 0,324 Profound defective State 0,481 0,307 0,231
161 Ethiopia 0,316 Profound defective State 0,613 0,217 0,236
162 Republic of the Congo 0,304 Profound defective State 0,503 0,329 0,170
163 Papua New Guinea 0,296 Collapsed State 0,680 0,551 0,069
164 Venezuela 0,290 Profound defective State 0,341 0,406 0,176
165 Syria 0,279 Profound defective State 0,217 0,359 0,279
166 Somalia 0,278 Profound defective State 0,554 0,264 0,148
167 Haiti 0,251 Profound defective State 0,371 0,349 0,122
168 Central African Republic 0,239 Profound defective State 0,397 0,266 0,129
169 Chad 0,232 Profound defective State 0,293 0,407 0,104
170 Afghanistan 0,220 Profound defective State 0,181 0,371 0,157
171 South Sudan 0,154 Collapsed State 0,498 0,063 0,115
172 Yemen 0,114 Collapsed State 0,146 0,118 0,085
173 Libya 0,029 Collapsed State 0,001 0,068 0,369

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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23 Comments

  1. C Mrdoc says:

    “Stateness denotes that a state…possesses the means to control populations” — hard pass. Happy to rank lower if this is the definition.

  2. Manny says:

    LOL, Singapore.

  3. Daniel Manion says:

    Conscription & no public gun ownership, is that the solution

  4. Stanton Swafford says:

    I lived in Singapore for five years until I moved north to Malacca, Malaysia. Actually, Singapore would win a prize for being the most boring country in the world. The nation state is a one party autocracy. Yes, law and order are paramount in Singapore. Low crime as a result. A westerner moving to Singapore to live would find little or no “culture shock”. And unlike in Malaysia, they would also find little or no stimulation in their life. In short, this poll is very relative.

  5. Crotte says:

    Apparently this study did not consider what some of these countries did during the pandemic. Typical half-A$$ed report!!!!! Most of these reports are created to get paid. Factual I think not.

    1. Vendicar Decarian says:

      Yes, I agree. America should be ranked much, much lower.

      It is a Clown Car nation.

      1. Rummy Deuce says:

        You’re obsessed with America like every single other country is, while we never think about you at all LOL… so sad for you. Enjoy your shithole while we continue to lead Western civilization there tiger, your envy is palpable just so you know.

  6. carlos bento says:

    what a load of bs…Portugal #15…what a big LOL, super high taxes, not a single politician isn’t corrupt, increase crimes due to immigration, increase housing prices, increase cost of living, increase dirt in the streets, increase poverty, and so on and so on…

  7. Richard Payne Jr. says:

    WOW, now all you America haters have a place to go.

  8. Lu Mahalo says:

    My wife has worked in Singapore for more than 10 years. We love it there. It’s expensive and unless you have money, housing is tough. The weather is usually hot and humid. But, it is so clean.

    I may see a policeman only once in a while. However, Singapore has harsh penalties for peeps that screw up. That’s why a young woman can walk down the street at 2 AM and be safe.

    The worse thing for us is the Chinese population. They are mostly die hard ChiComs or sympathizers and have a holier than thou attitude as they treat most non-Chinese poorly.

    But, all and all, it’s so safe and comforting to be there.

  9. M says:

    Wow! Maybe the immigrants should know this. Because the US is #1 destination to immigrate to. If they knew maybe we could get a break at our borders. Such a stupid poll!!

  10. Hector Martinez says:

    Sure, people from every corner of the globe are breaking down the doors to get into
    this country but we are supposed to believe this?
    In terms of opportunity, no country tops the US. For example, people from Africa frequently come here with just the clothes on their back and become successful. If there is so much discrimination against blacks, why are Africans so much more successful than the ones born here? If there is “white supremacy,” why are Asians the most successful demographic? How come we had a black president for which the majority of whites voted for twice? Why is rap the most popular music? Why is the NFL the most popular sport?

  11. Astor Clement says:

    they’re always looking for new ways to convince themselves they don’t envy the USA

  12. JEB says:

    Australia has fallen into fascist control where they spent the pandemic harassing law abiding citizens and hamstringing the ability of Kim and pops to make a living.

    Singapore canes children, ranks below Vietnam in human slavery, outlaws chewing gum, and charges you like a 100k for the privilege of having a car.

    These are police states where individual freedom is a myth.

    Who partook in your poll? Was it some cuck symposium? Certainly not anyone that values freedom.

  13. Rummy Deuce says:

    Basic Internet listicles are for dummies with poor cognitive immune systems.

  14. bryan says:

    Please send this study to all the second and third world countries. Everyone is coming to the USA in very large numbers and we can’t take much more of it. I don’t give a crap what the rest of the world thinks of USA….

  15. Stark says:

    23rd? That high? Since the take over of the USA, by leftist slugs, we should be much worse.

    1. JacK Kennedy says:

      BOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

      ………THks to bhusseinO, the jihadi squad and their ilk!!

  16. Stark says:

    The inmates are running the asylum for sure.

  17. JacK Kennedy says:

    notice how all the high states are homogenous and the low/defective states are jihadi squad type areas ….. ie the dems favorite type of countrys

  18. Orestis Papapanagiotou says:

    T P Stawski also wrote and I quote

    “In a country where, for example, there is no freedom of speech, people can still be well provided with all the essentials in life”.

    I mean really? Is this where we normalise dictatorship? People living like machines? Sure you have everything WE think you need so stop talking, expressing your opinion and generally breathing.

    Thank you but NO thank you.

  19. Ho KeeYan says:

    Congrats on being honest. Those who poop you should watch some Max Chernov Youtube videos of views on Singapore.

  20. Dr Mahesh says:

    MANJULA H SINGAPURA

    This is call Singapore