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Unsettled Scores

Unsettled Scores

Rank is revealing, but fluctuating scores signal which way a country is trending

Although the United States remains the perennial leader on the Scientific American Worldview Scorecard, there’s no shortage of volatility in the rankings as many countries battle their way up and down the list. Singapore, which ranked fifth last year, returns to second place, a position it held two years ago. The United Kingdom, which came in below the tenth slot in the early years of the Scorecard, advances from last year’s ninth place to finish at number eight. Canada rounds out the top 10, holding onto its number 10 spot from 2015. Among the big movers, Israel climbs five slots from last year to take 13th place, Qatar drops six rungs to 28th, Hungary advances four spots to 36th, and Puerto Rico falls 17 spaces to land at 48th.

But apart from the rankings, a country’s absolute score is a key indicator. When nations maintain a consistent ranking, you can still look to their scores to gauge changes in their performance. The United States, for example, has always held first place. Therefore, the only way to really address its evolving performance is to look at its overall score. This year the United States scores 39.8, which, like the previous two years, is greater than its average over all eight years of Scientific American Worldview’s history. Thus, the numbers indicate that its standing is improving. Singapore and Denmark, on the other hand, have scores this year that are below their eight-year average. So despite their high rankings, they are not improving year over year. The majority of the countries at the bottom of the Scorecard also came in this year with numbers below their eight-year averages, suggesting that they may be on a downward slide.