The good news is SA ranked high in personal freedom, legal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) relationships, and fewer government restrictions on religion than last year.
The index reached its all-time high in its 12-year history. The institute believes the growth domestic product (GDP) is insufficient in measuring people’s lived experience, so they also look at health, education and governance in measuring prosperity.
But it’s not all good news as the gap between the highest and lowest countries widened. The top 20 countries steadily improved while the bottom 20 countries “fell sharply and suddenly”. The bottom 20 includes 12 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The index found the sharpest deterioration were in Mena (the Middle East and North Africa) and sub-Saharan Africa is driven by war, terrorism, oppressive regimes and the declining availability of food and shelter.
“Many of these countries lack the institutional resilience to recover from major setbacks. Others are war-torn and highly insecure places to live, and are fast-becoming the source of a significant proportion of the world’s forced migration, having a disproportionate impact on their neighbours, as seen following the civil war in Syria.”