Irish people take issue with topping ‘Good Country Index’

Author blames ‘Groucho Marx syndrome’ after complaints over study based on 2010 data

The author of a survey claiming Ireland is the "goodest country" in the world has said he has received a deluge of emails from Irish people taking issue with his findings.

The Good Country Index of 125 countries suggests Ireland makes a more positive contribution to the world than any other country. It measures how nations contribute to the well-being of humanity and the inverse of that, how they detract from that well-being.

Simon Anholt said Irish people suffer from "a severe case of Groucho Marx syndrome" by not wanting to be part of any club that would have them as a member, and cannot believe the country is ranked first.

Ireland ranked ahead of Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands in the top four.


Mr Anholt said the data, which is based on 35 internationally comparative surveys, does not lie.

“The message to the Irish people is that they can hold their heads up high. No matter how much they are suffering in the last number of years, they haven’t forgotten their international obligations and neither has the Government. They still can feel proud of where they come from,” he said.

Ireland ranked first in the world in terms of prosperity and equality. This category covers open trading, UN volunteers abroad, foreign direct investment outflows, fairtrade products market size and international development aid.

Mr Anholt said the ranking is reflective of Ireland’s success as an exporting country and to free trade, coupled with the generosity of Ireland in terms of international aid, where we are currently ranked seventh in terms of our per capita contribution.

Ireland’s ranking of fourth in helping to maintain world order is down to our role as a UN peacekeeper and our lack of involvement in any foreign conflicts.

The UK, which ranked seventh overall, only finished 94th in this category because of its involvement in many foreign conflicts.

The rankings were based on data collected in 2010. Mr Anholt said there was a degree of incredulity that Egypt, which has been hit by internal tension, was ranked first in terms of helping to maintain world order, but he explained that its tensions were internal rather than external.

Ireland finished seventh in terms of contribution to world culture. Mr Anholt explained that this relates solely to the value of exported cultural goods and services such as the film and television along with our contribution to Unesco.

He confessed to being unsurprised by the backlash from Irish people who definitely do not believe the country deserves such a high ranking.

"I have advised 53 countries in my career and I've only come across three that do not suffer from low self-esteem - Sweden, the United States and Kazakhstan, " he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times