In reclaiming the 12th position, Norway’s secret to its measured success has been incremental improvements. The most significant steps have come in education, with Norway moving up the ranks by an impressive seven places. Universities in Norway remain tuition-free for all and government spending in education – the highest as a percentage of GDP globally – is proving a worthwhile investment. Elsewhere, Norway’s rankings have remained consistent. Continued commitment to social welfare and equal wealth distribution continue to provide an oft-cited model society across Europe, and the Government Pension Fund of Norway’s decision to disinvest from fossil fuels adds green credentials to Norway’s international reputation.
Perennially topping the Human Development Index, high life expectancy, quality education and high GDP per capita sustain Norway’s place among the world’s Soft Power 30 elite. Consistent GDP growth and a place in the Top 10 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings also translated into a strong score in the Enterprise sub-index.
Falls in the Engagement and Digital sub-indices suggest the country could do more to expand its global diplomatic network digitally and on the ground. Norway is the happiest country in the world, and its breath-taking Fjords should see it do better in the Culture sub-index, following a disappointing 19th place this year.
Building from a strong base, investing in digital and traditional diplomacy could allow Norway to better leverage its assets. With the increasing popularity of ‘Scandi’ culture, Norway can do more to tap into the trend more assertively alongside its neighbouring competitors: Sweden and Denmark.