Norway continues to perform extraordinarily well in the Status Index and ranks second only to Sweden (-1 rank relative to SGI 2009).
Norway is a typical consensus-driven democracy able to adapt smoothly to a changing global environment. The country’s economic and social policies are exemplary in cross-national comparison and help ensure a high quality of life for Norwegian citizens.
The tax burden for individuals is exceptionally high. A large portion of these revenues is used to sustain a generous welfare system that combats inequalities and supports infrastructure.
Education and innovation policies are areas of concern, as lavish public expenditures in these sectors often fail to yield expected results.
Norway continues to rank among the top performers in terms of democracy.
Electoral processes are firmly established. The media are autonomous and pluralistic despite some influential state-owned broadcasting stations. Every citizen has access to official documents held by public authorities.
Civil rights are protected against abuse by either state or non-state actors. Access to justice is free and easy. Political liberties are granted by law. Discrimination against minorities is low.
The legal system is sound and transparent. Citizens generally trust their institutions. There are few instances of corruption.
Rising from rank 4 in the SGI 2009, Norway tops the SGI 2011 ranking of economic policy in OECD states.
Public finances are rock solid, with the state budget effectively running a massive and durable surplus as a result of significant petroleum revenues from the North Sea. Norway has long enjoyed strong economic growth and near-full employment, largely thanks to the public sector. The country weathered the recent world economic crisis with only modest adverse effects.
The state wields an exceptionally strong influence in the economy. Citizens are subject to a relatively heavy tax burden, both through high consumption taxes and relatively high labor income taxes. Corporate taxation is by contrast moderate.
Norway tops the SGI 2011 social policy ratings, reflecting a wealthy, equitable society.
The extensive health system provides high-quality care to all residents. Health care for mothers and children is particularly good. However, the efficiency of the system is questionable.
Income distributions are comparatively equitable, and poverty rates are among the lowest in the world. Social expenditures are well above the EU average.
Family policy successfully facilitates exceptionally high labor market participation rates for women. The pension system is well-positioned to support the aging of the population in coming decades.
Integration policy is well-organized and well-funded, but complaints about discrimination in the labor and the housing markets are frequent.
Norway has influence beyond its relatively small size in various international forums and activities. Security policy is informed by a commitment to international cooperation and by a determination to do good.
Norway is one of the world’s largest providers of development aid. It participates in a range of UN and NATO peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Internal security is not seriously threatened by crime. Police presence and activism have each been relatively low, and most of the police force remains unarmed. Norway relies primarily on policies targeting long-term crime prevention rather than harsh prison sentences.
Norway ranks 11th in the SGI’s resources category.
The government regularly promotes international cooperation on environmental issues. CO2 emissions are among the world’s lowest per unit of GDP, while renewable resource use is among the most developed in the world.
The country continues to be a relative laggard in spending on R&D. The manner in which research funds and state subsidies are allocated has drawn some criticism.
The labor force is one of the world’s most educated, and the government spends highly on public education. But the country’s share of degrees granted in scientific disciplines is low by international standards, and student performance is low relative to resources expended.