Wednesday, January 20, 2016

US News Country Ratings Are Horseshit

US News & World Report partnered with a brand management firm and Wharton (the business school) to whip up a ranking of countries, presumably so that upper and middle class American kids can choose their next citizenship the same way they do their colleges.

Germany came in first (no arguments here), and while that was exciting for me (a German resident), it made me wonder how they were ranked. The methodology has its own page, and after patting themselves on the back, you get this:

"A set of 65 country attributes – terms that can be used to describe a country and that are also relevant to the success of a modern nation – were identified. Attributes by nation were presented in a survey of more than 16,000 people from across the globe where participants assessed how closely they associated one with the other."

So, what these really are is a ranking of how people perceive the countries. This explains why Uruguay, which gets 95% of its electricity from sustainable sources, ranked 33! in the "Best Countries for Green Living". Of course, doing this hand-in-hand with a brand management company should've been a dead giveaway. This isn't ranking reality, THIS IS RANKING PERCEPTION. Rankings are like computer data: Garbage in, Garbage out.


Jason said...

I'm always dubious when Germany is ranked #1 unless it were on a seriousness index. I also did not see any Germany cities in the Economist top city listing...

So in general, agreed...booo on these rankings!!

jtingermany said...

Yeah, that does make it sketchy. But they have Calgary, and that seems too in the middle of nowhere to be truly livable. but, still, not sure about the economist's, either -- no luxembourg. but at least they aren't crowdsourcing their rankings!