The U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth

~ Sean Hannity

I tend to think Hannity is suffering from more than a little patriotism bias but there is no doubting it – America is teh winz.

Reihan Salam asks why

One could argue that the U.S. out-performs because of our natural resource endowments, but that seems unlikely; Norway and Nigeria are both rich in hydrocarbons, and they’re at opposite ends of the HDI spectrum. It could be that high quality of our public institutions, but of course many states in northern Europe outdo us on that front, as does Singapore. I have my pet theories as to why the U.S. out-performs, but I’ll let you guys think about this one.

I am going to go pretty conventional on this one and say a combination of three big factors

  1. The Common Law
  2. Massive Immigration
  3. The Great Scientific Exodus during WWII

You’ll notice that four of the top five countries in the Human Development Index have the Common Law and the top, Norway, is a awash in oil. Without the petro-kronors they probably wouldn’t be so hot.

You’ll also notice that 3 of the top 4, again with Norway the odd man out, are immigrant nations. The founder effect here should be clear.

The bonus from the great exodus is definitely waning. Most of our hey-day German and Jewish scientists are dying off, but its still given us a boost that lingers to this day. There is no fundamental reason why the US should be the center of the scientific world but for a time it was the only place in the world safe for many scientists.

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