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Press Release

Sweden Again Takes Top Spot in Global Development Index

September 14, 2021
Contact: Eva Grant Center for Global Development +1 (202) 416-4027 egrant@cgdev.org

Commitment to Development Index Ranks World’s Richest Countries on How Well Their Domestic Policies Improve Lives in the Developing World

Index also finds Sweden has the most positive climate policies in the Global North

WASHINGTON – Today, the Center for Global Development (CGD) announced that Sweden claimed the top spot in the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 40 G20 and high-income countries by how well their policies help improve lives in lower-income countries.

Released annually by CGD, the CDI is a broad-based analytical tool that measures contributions in eight policy areas: finance, investment, migration, trade, health, environment, security, and technology. Within each area, countries are measured on how their policies and actions support lower-income countries in their efforts to build prosperity, good governance, and security. The global health component is a new measurement in this years’ CDI.

The CDI is the only index to assess countries policies in terms of their international contribution to development,” said Ian Mitchell, who leads the project as Senior Policy Fellow and co-Director of the CGD’s Europe program. “Financial contributions like aid are important, but to understand development, and countries’ real contributions to global prosperity, it’s important to examine a variety of angles.”

Sweden tops the Index for the third consecutive time in 2021. Sweden’s high ranking comes from its excellent performance across seven of the eight components of the CDI, ranking first on environment and migration, and second on the new health component.

You can view the full 2021 rankings at www.cgdev.org/cdi.

“While Sweden has room for improvement on its contribution to global technology, with relatively little research collaboration and few foreign students from lower-income countries,” said research associate and co-author Lee Robinson, “Sweden continues to be a great development leader for others to aspire toward overall. Sweden’s annual emissions of 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per head, for example, are half the CDI average. Relative to its population, Sweden also welcomes the second largest number of refugees on our list, and scores highest on its refugee integration policies.”

Other findings from this year’s results include:

  • China ranks 36th, 14 places behind the US, held back by a lack of transparency in development finance and low scores in migration and security.
  • The UK slipped a place to 5th, although 2021 aid cuts are yet to be assessed.
  • The US fell four spots overall, from to 18th overall to 22nd, due mostly to Trump-era policy priorities.
  • France ranked 2nd and top G7 country, with a strong environmental performance.
  • Norway ranked 3rd and Australia moved up four places to 4th, boosted by this year’s introduction of a global health ranking to the tool.

Learn more about the rankings and how countries performed at www.cgdev.org/cdi.

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About the Methodology: The CDI is transparent about its method and data, with full details available at www.cgdev.org/cdi. All the data and calculations are published with full sources in a series of spreadsheets. The CDI uses an updated methodology each year, making improvements in the way we measure how policy impacts development. Year on year changes reported above can reflect new data, or an improved method, or both.