Contrary to the predominantly negative discourse in-house, Bulgaria has been ranked 11th in the Good Country Index. The country is 11th in categories Science & Technology and Planet & Climate. It also ranks well in Peace & Security (15th).
The index measures what each of the 163 represented countries contributes to the common good of humanity relative to its size, not “what countries do at home”. It is stated that the index is based on wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organizations (here’s the list).
Given the fact that such large data sets often lack representativity or local context, the ranking might be a bit controversial.
Science and tech
According to the results Bulgaria ranks 11th among the explored countries in terms of contribution to science and technology. The indicators measured here are number of international student, journal exports, international publications, Nobel prizes and patents.
Data available to us and independent from the bases used by The Good Country Index, shows that since 2001 there are around 18K patents issued in Bulgaria, and in early 2018 there were 15.5K international students in the country. Despite several nominations, there has never been a Bulgarian Nobel laureate. However, Bulgarian students teams often win global contests in Mathematics and Informatics.
Some question marks
As cool as some findings may sound, there seem to be some gaps in the data. The country performs best among the top 15 in the Peace and Security category. The methodology of the Index states: “the countries that score well in this category do not export arms; they are not directly involved in international violent conflicts”.
According to the index, Bulgaria performs better than average in terms of arms exports, which would mean it doesn’t export much relatively to its size. We also reviewed different available data sets. Some, like the data visualizer HowMuch, state that Bulgaria is among the small arms exporters with sales for $61M in 2016. We double-checked with local sources to find out that in 2017 Bulgaria has realized €1.2B from military tech exports, according to the local Commission for Export Control
The indicator of this category in which Bulgaria performs best, however, is the Internet Security. The Global Cybersecurity Index shows Bulgaria was ranked 44th globally in 2017.
You can choose to be a citizen of a digital country
All this data could be very confusing and misleading. The whole initiative with ranking the contributions of different countries to the world’s welfare was meant to open up a debate on what countries are for and it was founded by the policy advisor Simon Anholt.
Anholt also has a kind of alternative for everyone who is not satisfied with his or her own country and wants to be a citizen of a better one. The Good Country is a non-profit organization, registered in Delaware, USA, that claims to be an online country based on its citizens values and existing on each citizen’s $5 yearly donation.
“In order to ‘change the culture of governance worldwide from one that is fundamentally competitive to one that is fundamentally collaborative,’ we need a powerful new actor that can make and implement its own policies. In doing so, the Good Country will provide working proof to other countries of the benefits of collaborative behavior”, it states. We are not quite sure what it means and whether it’s just another activist group, but the effort to collect and process all the data is impressive.